The Boston Bruins held on to defeat the Vancouver Canucks, 2-0, in an East Coast vs. West Coast battle of seldom-paired NHL rivals Thursday night in the TD Banknorth Garden.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas
earned his second National Hockey League shut out and his first 'zero' of the current season.
"We were (using) our bodies, blocking shots and making plays," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara
of the hard fought win. "It was really a 'grinding' game."
"It's a win, and we'll definitely take the win," said Glen Murray. "But we can't play like that in the second and third period and win many games."
It didn't start that way, though. What looked like a defensive battle in the end, fought in the trenches, had started with the same offensive flair that ended the Bruins 7-2 win over Ottawa on Tuesday.
In fact, the Bruins controlled play so decisively in the first half of the first period, you could almost smell a rout brewing in the Garden.
The B's assistant captains, Patrice Bergeron
(11th goal, 3:14) and Murray (18th goal, 12:20), started right where they left off with the Senators and gave the game a Black & Gold tint early on against the visitors from British Columbia.
Thomas began well, too, and made a spectacular glove save off Matt Cooke with 13:36 on the clock. He finished the first period with 12 saves and would eventually give the Bruins a boost with his strong, steady play throughout the game.
"He probably could have been first, second and third star," said Boston head coach Dave Lewis after the game. "Timmy was…great."
Prophetically, Coach Lewis had said after Thursday's morning skate that he does not believe momentum is carried over from game-to-game. The Bruins coach could have also added that sometimes momentum does not even carry over from period to period.
And unfortunately for the home squad, the second and third periods were a little sloppy and put a scare into the home fans. Still, Thomas remained unbeaten through the second and eventually the third (39 total saves) despite a few hectic moments.
But a puck off the Bruins post and a Thomas inspired shoving match seemed to wake the B's from their second stanza slumber and prevented a permanent shift of momentum toward the visitors' bench in the last two thirds of the game.
"I thought we gave up too many shots," said defenseman Brad Stuart. "But Timmy played really well for us."
A truly scary moment happened very late in the second period when Stuart blocked a shot high in the torso and the puck deflected into his facial area.
He left the ice on his own power, but was obviously bloodied.
Stuart, almost legendary in the Bruins locker room for his pain threshold, returned early in the third and inspired the B's to a better period on both sides of the puck.
Coupled with Thomas' continued brilliance in goal, the Stuart inspired up tick in the B's play in the last few minutes of the game brought the B's to the threshold of victory.
Despite a last ditch effort by the Canucks, Thomas, a former University of Vermont Catamount, held Vancouver off the board.
"They were on us, you had to battle," said Lewis. "There was a fatigue factor involved, but our guys found a way to get into that mindset.
"Timmy was first star…but after a game like this, as a defenseman or a winger battling on the wall, you feel good about…exhaustion, and winning.
"And Timmy bailed out guys if there was a mistake or a turnover or a play at the net. He was there for them," he said.
Thomas, for his part, was excited, but much more excited about the win rather than the shutout.
"I am not paid for zeroes, I am paid for wins," Thomas said with a smile.
The B's return home to the TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday night when they host the Montreal Canadiens at 7:00 p.m. The game can be seen live on NESN and heard live on WBZ Radio.
During the first and second intermissions, Rene Rancourt will be singing carols in his annual tradition and the first 5,000 fans will receive Black & Gold Hub of Hockey Santa Hats
Tickets are available for all home games online by clicking here
, at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 617.624.BEAR.