NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Joe Thornton is heating up just at the right time
for the Boston Bruins.
Thornton scored his second goal with 1:52 remaining, lifting the Boston
Bruins to a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night for their
third win in five games. He has five goals in four games, helping the Bruins
stay close to Ottawa and Toronto in the Northeast Division.
``I thought he played one of his best games of the year tonight,'' Bruins
coach Mike Sullivan said.
``Certainly, with that type of effort and that type of commitment that he
showed to the rest of our team I think speaks volumes about how he's grown as a
player. That's the type of player I think he wants to be, and we want him to be
down the stretch here.''
Mike Knuble also scored in the third period and had an assist, and Dan
McGillis and Glen Murray each had two assists.
Thornton scored on Boston's first shot in the first, after Nashville took
the first eight shots of the game, while camped in front of rookie goalie
Andrew Raycroft. Thornton also answered 44 seconds after Nashville tied it in
Raycroft, who stopped 24 shots for his 23rd victory, noted that Thornton
also won four draws at the end to help seal the victory.
``It's amazing. Every time you put the (pressure) on him, it seems to get
done, and it's real fun to watch,'' Raycroft said.
Nashville, which came into the game seventh in the Western Conference,
desperately needed at least a point. The Predators thought they forced overtime
when Steve Sullivan scored a power-play goal to tie it at 2 at 17:26 of the
But Thornton scored his 21st of the season soon after, flipping a backhander
through traffic and into the net. He credited linemates Murray and Knuble with
helping him score in near identical fashion to his first goal.
``I saw both goals. I didn't realize how many men they actually took on
their backs. But they just did a great job for me coming around the corner and
made some good picks for me, and luckily they (hit) open nets,'' Thornton said.
Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun said he was following Thornton as he worked
his way around the net to the slot.
``But I just couldn't get there because the (Boston) player just went right
into the crease,'' Vokoun said.
This was one of six home games remaining for the Predators, and they could
have set a franchise record with a victory. They had their chances but went
1-for-6 on the power play after getting 18 man-advantage goals in the previous
Nashville has lost three of four.
``If we're going to get into the playoffs, we're going to have to find every
which way to get those points,'' Sullivan said.
Nashville started well enough.
Thornton quickly stopped that momentum as he took the puck and skated around
wide of the net and shot just inside the left post, scoring at 3:58 of the
first with Vokoun screened by traffic.
Nashville captain Greg Johnson tied it at 1 only 20 seconds into the second
period as he scored his 10th on a short-handed breakaway.
Knuble snapped the tie at 9:12 of the third, scoring on a rebound with
assists by Thornton and McGillis.