Tim Thomas Blanks Panthers in Shootout Round As Bruins Take Division Lead With Win Over Florida


Tim Thomas Blanks Panthers in Shootout Round As Bruins Take Division Lead With Win Over Florida The Bruins couldn't replicate their effort from Thursday's night's dominant win over Atlanta as they opened a five-game road trip in Florida on Monday. But they did end up with the same result.

They added another two points to their total with a 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers, and these two points pushed them five spots up the standings as they take over the Northeast Division lead.

Boston's 42 points remain just the seventh-highest total in the Eastern Conference, but they take over the third seed as a division leader from idle Montreal by virtue of having two games in hand on the Canadiens, who also have 42 points.

"Every win is important," Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said. "Every two points we can put in the bank is important. It was good that we could come back in the third period and ultimately end up with the two points. Did we play as good as we did against Atlanta? No. And our goal is to play as good as we did against Atlanta every game, so we still have a little bit of work to do. But it sure is nice to learn those lessons when you still get the two points."

Thomas was a big reason why the Bruins were able to come away with the two points on Monday. He stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, then stoned all three Panthers shooters in the shootout to preserve the victory.

Those stops included denying Chris Higgins on a breakaway and robbing former Bruin defenseman Dennis Wideman with a sprawling save in front in the closing minutes of the third period.

"Probably the closest one to coming in was Wideman's," Thomas said. "It was a good cross-crease pass there and he got it up. I was fortunate enough just to get a piece of it with my glove."

While Thomas provided the defense, the recently reunited line of David Krejci, Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder supplied all the offense.

Krejci, who had scored just one goal in the previous nine games, scored both Boston goals in regulation. He tied it at 1-1 at 9:05 of the second when he banged in a rebound after Scott Clemmensen (40 saves) stopped Zdeno Chara's initial shot and Ryder's first rebound opportunity.

Krejci then tied it again at 2-2 at 10:35 of the third as he completed a slick passing play from Ryder and Wheeler with a move to the backhand at the left post.

"I think as the game went on they got better and better," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of the Krejci line. "I thought maybe the first few shifts during the first period they were probably over-passing instead of shooting, but they created some things tonight and they got better and they were big for us."

Krejci wanted even more, but was willing to take the two goals — and the two points — with the knowledge that the Bruins hadn't played their best game.

"I think we had a good game against Atlanta and that's how we wanted to play again tonight," Krejci said. "I had more scoring chances and buried some of them. We got two goals. I think it could have been more, but we should be happy with two."

Wheeler made sure the two goals were enough, as he scored the only goal of the shootout. After Tyler Seguin, the only Bruin who had scored in a shootout this season, failed to convert Boston's first attempt, Wheeler stepped up. He lost control of the puck briefly as he drove to the net, but regained possession and stuffed the puck in at the right post.

With Thomas turning aside Mike Santorelli, Stephen Weiss and Evgeny Dadonov, Wheeler's tally on his first shootout attempt of the season was all the Bruins needed to open their road trip on a positive note and take over the division lead.

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