Tim Thomas Shakes Off Rust in Return to Bruins Net

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November 28, 2009

Tim Thomas Shakes Off Rust in Return to Bruins Net The 17,565 fans that filled the TD Garden on Saturday night weren't thinking about Tim Thomas' trophy case early in the first period.

Thomas, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, allowed a goal on the first shot he saw in his return from a six-game absence. Minutes later, he allowed the Senators to score a second goal on just their fourth shot of the night.

The disappointment manifested itself in a Bronx cheer for Thomas' next save.

"The first goal though was kind of unlucky," Thomas said after the game. "It turned sideways on [Daniel] Alfredsson?s stick. … It was hard to read because it was sideways on his stick. And the second goal, [Milan Michalek] just fooled me. He got me right when I was doing the turn from one side to the other and I think we were a little disorganized because [Patrice Bergeron] was out of the play basically. And actually sitting there as the play?s still going on, I?m thinking ?Man, I hope Bergy?s OK.?"

Thomas settled in, however, to stop the next 12 shots, but with 19.3 seconds remaining in the third period, he let in a soft goal that allowed the Senators to tie the game at three goals apiece.

Thomas had trouble forgiving himself.

"I cost us the point. I felt terrible. I let the team down big time," he said. "I feel like they deserved the win with the effort that they put throughout the game. They deserved to win outright. So at the time, it?s one of the worst feelings I?ve had in like four years here with the Bruins."

Obviously angry, Thomas rose to the occasion in extra time, stopping three shots in overtime and stopping Alex Kovalev, Jason Spezza, Alfredsson and Mike Fisher in the shootout to salvage a victory.

Thomas said he "couldn't watch" Michael Ryder's shootout attempt because he was sick to his stomach, but he was — naturally — relieved after the win.

But while Thomas' performance raised some eyebrows early in Boston — especially considering how well Tuukka Rask had been playing — head coach Claude Julien pointed out that despite the mistakes, his goaltender came up huge when the pressure was on.

"I think [Thomas' performance was] normal after a guy has not played in a while," Julien said. "He has not practiced for a duration of time at full capacity. He was good enough tonight to make a big save at the right time. He gave up a bad goal, but I like the way he battled back in the shootout. He was determined to redeem himself in a way and give us a chance to win, and he did that."

While Thomas wasn't perfect, Julien admired the resiliency shown by the goalie and the rest of the team.

"This is a game of mistakes, and what you look for your players to do is bounce back," Julien said. "That is what we did in the first period. I thought we played a decent first, although those two mistakes ended up in our net. One was a bad penalty, and the other was a bad turnover. Other than that, our period wasn?t that bad. We came out in the second determined to redeem ourselves and we clawed our way back into the game."

Though they'd rather not have given up a point to the Senators, the Bruins jumped into sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division. They now lead the Senators and Sabres by one point. Captain Zdeno Chara said that not all wins have to be pretty.

"We didn?t have a good start, that is one thing," Chara said. "But now I think it is more about we are on top of the standings and to just really focus and make sure that we stay there and approach every game as a must-win and play to win and really establish ourselves in that position — not to let up but challenge ourselves more to play even better."

David Krejci, who scored a goal and registered an assist before hitting the post in his shootout attempt, seemed impressed by the way Thomas responded in the shootout.

"Before the shootout he talked to us shooters, that he made a mistake [on Ottawa?s] last goal and he is going to make up for it," Krejci said. "And he for sure did, so credit to him."

As the final seconds ticked off the clock in regulation, it looked like the only credit Thomas would be getting would be for letting a surefire win slip away. But thanks to an outstanding performance in the shootout, Thomas and the Bruins were able to add a notch in the win column.

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