The B's headed into San Jose hoping to be able to merely keep pace with the NHL's best team. Not only did they manage to thwart Joe Thornton and the high-powered Sharks offense in regulation despite being without Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, but they toppled the mighty Sharks 2-1 on a Zdeno Chara goal in the fourth-round of a shootout at HP Pavilion.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas submitted one of his best performances of the season, registering a season-high 41 saves on 42 shots and keeping the Sharks from scoring in the shootout.
Daniel Paille scored first for the extremely short-handed Bruins, putting the puck on net before Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle finished the effort by deflecting it past his own goaltender. Thornton evened things up midway through the period for his 12th goal of the season for the Sharks.
Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov finished with 30 saves on 31 shots.
Bruins 2, Sharks 1
Jan. 14, 2009
HP Pavilion, San Jose, Calif.
Headliner: Netminder Tim Thomas had a brilliant night, holding the Sharks scoreless through the first period and allowing his team the opportunity to score first. He was particularly spectacular during a power play midway through the third, holding strong to keep the B's in a game that was deadlocked at 1, and he held off mighty sniper Dany Healtey in the third round of the shootout to keep the B's afloat. Thomas established a season-high in saves, finishing with 40 saves on 41 shots.
The Bruins have desperately needed to find a way to win close games instead of finding a way to lose them — and they were finally able to do it on Thursday, thanks to Thomas.
Grinder: Daniel Paille scored for the first time in 11 games on a night when the Bruins needed a lucky bounce — and they got it. Shawn Thornton fired the puck in from the point and Paille put it on the net, where Evgeni Nabokov deflected it. But unfortunately for San Jose, Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle tipped the puck into the net with his skate.
Paille, Thornton and Trent Whitifield put together a very promising, very aggressive effort on the fourth line, which was perhaps Boston's best line of the night.
Weak Link: Joe Thornton did his part for the Sharks, but what about the rest of his star-studded line that features Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley? Marleau couldn't find the back of the net on seven shots in 20:25 of ice time, and Heatley had two golden opportunities but couldn't score, either — and then he flopped against Thomas in the shootout.
Key Moment: The Sharks earned their second power play of the game about 12 minutes into the third period, when Blake Wheeler headed into the box for hooking. It was a major test for Tim Thomas and it was one he passed with flying colors, withstanding the pressure of maintaining a tie game and holding the league's best team at bay. San Jose couldn't score on the man advantage and the B's were able to hold on for the rest of regulation.
Up Next: The Bruins complete their West Coast swing on Saturday at 4 p.m., when they visit the Los Angeles Kings.
L.A. currently sits in third place in the Pacific Division, 13 points behind the Sharks. Center Anze Kopitar, a 22-year-old who was the Kings' first-round draft pick from 2005, leads the team in goals (18) and in assists (26). Twenty-three-year-old goaltender Jonathan Quick is 23-15-3 this season with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage.