Boston, MA -- Although he seemed a little embarrassed, after the Bruins 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens, Tim Thomas talked about the hit that has Boston (and certainly all of Quebec) buzzing.
“Yeah, I heard the hit [on Aaron Ward by Andrei Kostitsyn] and I looked over and I saw Wardo down, and the first thing that went through my mind was [Patrice] Bergeron and Andrew Alberts last year,” said Thomas, who then stepped into Kostitsyn as the Montreal forward moved toward the Boston net in the aftermath of the check. “You just react, you see a man down, and it’s instinct.”
That instinct and that hit ignited the sold-out TD Banknorth Garden and surely provided some of the impetus the Black & Gold needed to push through to an important victory over their archenemies.
And while there’s no doubt that Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien would prefer that his starting goaltender keep his cool and stay in the protection of his crease, in this particular situation, even the even-keeled Bruins bench boss had to admire the sentiment.
“I’m certainly not going to sit here and brag about it, but it just shows solidarity,” said Julien of Thomas’ retaliation for Kostitsyn’s boarding of Ward. “I think I heard him say his concern was obviously guys getting concussions from being hit from behind.
“Yeah, we are a little sensitive at those kind of things and he stood up for his teammates.
“Those are things that people are starting to see from our team, that we do have a good group of guys. You don’t have to say it, they just show up every night,” he said.
Defenseman Mark Stuart, who had already gone a round with Montreal’s Kyle Chipchura while sticking up for rookie Blake Wheeler, spoke for most of the people in the arena when he described the hit.
“I was pretty surprised,” said Stuart. “But good for him.
“He stepped up and tried to defend [Aaron] Ward.”
But beyond the hit, Stuart said the rest of Thomas’ night was pretty special, too.
“He played unbelievable,” said the defenseman. “Take out those huge saves he made for us and it’s a different game.
“A few sprawling saves saved us a couple of times…[and] throughout that first when we were turning pucks over, and they out shot us by quite a few, he was staying in there and giving us a chance.”
Julien thought Thomas was a difference maker.
“I think being the first star was well-deserved,” he said. “I think I would have split those between him and Zdeno [Chara, who had two goals] to be honest with you.
“He made some outstanding saves at key times and he was on top of his game. We needed that type of performance tonight in order to win and he gave it to us.”
Looking back on the night, Thomas just emphasized the fun he had.
“I talked a lot before the game, this morning and yesterday, about how we need to approach it just like any other game, but you know when the crowd gets into it like that and the teams play with that much energy, it felt a lot more like the playoffs last year,” he said. “I felt good and you know, it was a fun game to play.
“It wasn’t a blowout...it was right down to the last minute and a half, so it was one of the ‘funnest’ games I’ve played in this year.”