A couple of games off did wonders for Tim Thomas
Boston coach Claude Julien gave the 36-year-old All-Star the night off Thursday against the Islanders and again Friday in Ottawa after he had lost consecutive games for the first time all season.
The time off worked just as Julien had hoped. Thomas, who had allowed eight goals in the two losses, made 28 saves on Tuesday night and Milan Lucic scored twice as the Bruins beat the Flames 3-1 in Calgary.
"My legs felt fresher tonight than they have in a little while," said Thomas, who improved to 27-8-6 and lowered his league-leading goals-against average to 1.99.
It wasn't like Julien gave Thomas an easy opponent for his return. The Flames were 11-1-2 in their last 14 and were coming off Sunday's 4-0 victory against Montreal in the Tim Hortons Heritage Classic.
Thomas made his best save early in the third while protecting a 1-0 lead, sliding across to deny Jarome Iginla after a perfect give-and-go in the slot with Alex Tanguay.
"That's why he's on top of all categories for goalies in the NHL. He's a gamer," Lucic said. "He comes to play every night."
Julien is conscious of not overworking Thomas down the stretch.
"That whole week was good for him," Julien said of Thomas' break. "Tuukka (Rask) was able to win us a couple games in that span. It's great to see. We're hoping that we can utilize both of them from here on in so we're in a position to have some fresh goaltenders heading into the post-season."
Brad Marchand also scored for Boston, while Curtis Glencross spoiled Thomas' shutout bid by scoring his 20th of the season, a power-play tally with 2:33 remaining. But Lucic iced the win by hitting the empty net with 47 seconds to play. Boston is now 3-0-0 on a six-game trip that continues Saturday in Vancouver.
The Flames lost in regulation at home for the first time in 10 games (7-1-2).
"We can't dwell on this, we've had a good stretch here and we've got to just keep taking the positives and keep it going," said Glencross, who extended his point-scoring streak to eight games (7 goals, 5 assists).
Boston opened the scoring 59 seconds after the opening faceoff. David Krejci faked a slap shot and hit Lucic with a hard pass that he redirected past Miikka Kiprusoff before bowling over the goaltender.
The line of Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton was the best trio for either team.
"Our game kind of fell off in January because we weren't making smart plays. We were coughing up pucks, weren't moving like we usually do," Lucic said. "These last couple of games, we're skating again, we're strong on the puck and we're winning battles. If we want to be an effective line, that's what we need to do."
Marchand made it 2-0 for Boston at 5:55 of the third period, burying a rebound for his 19th of the season after Kiprusoff kicked out Patrice Bergeron's shot.
"I think we gave them a little too much respect off the hop," Glencross said. "We've got to worry about our own team, we're a good team in here, if we come out and play, we can play with any team in the League."
With 70 points, the Flames are in a three-way tie for fifth in the Western Conference -- but four other clubs are just two points back.
"We have another notch, we're a better team then what we showed tonight," Tanguay said. "We're in a situation where we desperately need every point but we're not going to win every game, we know that, so this doesn't change our approach."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report