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Bruins and their goaltender have a tough night

by Shawn P. Roarke
BOSTON -- By his own admission, Boston goalie Tim Thomas wasn't very good in Game 2. Nor did he get a lot of help from his teammates.

The result of that unfortunate combination couldn't have been worse, as the Bruins dropped a 3-1 decision to visiting Montreal, a loss that puts Boston in a 2-0 hole in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series, which moves to Montreal for Game 3 on Monday.

In its history, Boston has fallen into an 0-2 deficit in 26 playoff series. The Bruins have lost all 26.

Even with enough blame to be spread around, Thomas admitted Saturday that his 25-save performance in Game 2 was not good enough. He gave up two ugly rebound goals.

The first, just 43 seconds into the game, came when he pushed a James Wisniewski shot back into the slot after making a right-pad save. Michael Cammalleri was all too happy to scoop up that rebound and deposit it into the net.

When Montreal scored again 97 seconds later on the power play, the Canadiens were in command of the game.

After Boston scored a goal – its first of the series, by Patrice Bergeron – to make it 2-1 at 7:38 of the second, Thomas couldn't hold the fort. He allowed Yannick Weber to score with 2:39 left in the period to derail Boston's comeback bid.

"The first one, I kicked out the perfect rebound," Thomas said. "The second one, it went off (defenseman Dennis) Seidenberg's shin pad; it was just bad luck. It just changed the angle by about three or four inches, and that's the difference between controlling the rebound easily and having there be a rebound."

Five goals allowed in two games is usually not end-of-the world stuff for a goalie, but with the margin for error so small because of the brilliance of the goalie at the other end -- Montreal's Carey Price has stopped 65 of 66 shots – Thomas knows he has to be better and can't afford the mistakes that have doomed him in each of the past two games.

Thomas said he would be better on Monday when Boston tries to save its season with a win at the Bell Centre.

"You take a step back and start focusing on Monday," Thomas said. "You don't feel sorry for yourself, because no one else is going to feel sorry for you."

For its part, Montreal has gained a bit of confidence. Entering the series, there was every reason to believe that Thomas would be a difference-maker. After all, he set the league record for save percentage in a season and shut out Montreal in the final regular-season matchup between the teams just two weeks earlier.

But that aura of invincibility is now gone.

"He has been the best goalie in the League for the whole year," said Weber, who, ironically, has both of his career playoff goals against Thomas.  "With his stats we knew we needed to get some shots.  If you don't get shots then you won't score those goals.  For us we wanted to get everything to the front of the net and make him be the best goalie in the League like he was at the end of the season.  It was good to challenge him a little bit and good to get those goals."

Thomas knows the odds are long for his team to come back from the mess it has created. But, he also knows he can skew those odds a bit in his team's favor by stealing a game – or two – in Montreal. He insists he will be up for the challenge.

"It's easy to accept because it is," Thomas said. "It is what it is. We've got our backs against the wall, and we'll see how we respond."
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