BOSTON — Tim Thomas’ first game as an opposing player at TD Garden didn’t play out like many of his appearances in a spoked-B.
The former Boston Bruins goaltender allowed a season-high six goals as the Florida Panthers lost 6-2 on Tuesday night, dropping his record to 14-15-3.
“I think I might’ve enjoyed myself watching the State of the Union more,” Thomas joked to a large crowd of reporters outside the Panthers’ locker room. “No, probably not.”
The Bruins opened up a 2-0 lead on 19 shots after 20 minutes of play and extended their edge to 4-0 before Florida finally got on the scoreboard with 32.9 seconds left in the second period. It was a dominating performance by a Bruins team that has scored six goals in each of its last three games.
“They’re a good team. They made the finals last year for a reason, and they played a good game against us tonight, combined with us not playing our best game, myself included,” Thomas said. “They took advantage of it. They just kept coming at us. They rarely let up. When they did, we scored a couple of goals, and then they turned it back up.”
In fairness to Thomas, he didn’t have much help from his teammates. The Panthers surrendered 41 shots, gave the Bruins five power plays, didn’t possess the puck consistently and struggled to prevent Boston from sustaining offensive zone pressure.
“It was tough, not only for [Thomas] maybe not being the way he’s been all year — which has been awesome — but as a team, we didn’t help him out at all,” said Panthers forward Brad Boyes, who scored his team’s first goal. “For a guy like that to play as well as he has all year and everything he’s done for us, to not play well for him in this game when it’s a big game for him, it’s just too bad.”
Despite the constant wave of shots he faced, Thomas said he felt comfortable in front of a Boston crowd that gave him a loud standing ovation when the starting lineups were announced, then jeered him with chants of “Thomas! Thomas!” when the score was 5-2 in the third period.
“It still feels very comfortable. I know I’m on the Florida Panthers, obviously. I know I’m not on the Boston Bruins, and I’m happy where I’m at and I’m excited to be a part of that organization,” Thomas said. “But this still feels like a home arena to me, if that makes any sense.”
Thomas’ exit from Boston upset a lot of fans, but the impact he had on the Bruins’ success in his six years with the team can’t be overlooked. The now-39-year-old’s performance in the 2011 playoffs is arguably the greatest two months of hockey by a goaltender in NHL history, and there wouldn’t be a 2011 Stanley Cup champions banner hanging in the rafters at TD Garden without his brilliance against the Vancouver Canucks.
“I think with time people forget, and they tend to remember the good things, and Timmy did a lot of good things,” Bruins forward Chris Kelly said. “We won a Stanley Cup, and that’s something that is special for every guy that was on that team. In 20 years if they have a reunion, I’m sure Timmy will be back. I hope Timmy’s back. I hope everyone is back to reunite.”
There will be a time in the future for everyone to look back on Thomas’ accomplishments in Boston, but for now, the Bruins are focused on getting back to the Stanley Cup Final and becoming champions again. Through 52 games, Boston is well on its way to accomplishing that goal as one of the elite teams in the league.
Photo via @MattPep5