The Boston Bruins and goalie Tim Thomas have learned this week how quickly things can turn sour.
Both will try to change their fortunes on Thursday when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the Bruins looking to bounce back from consecutive disheartening losses and Thomas hoping to rebound from one of the worst games of his career.
|Tim Thomas (right) will likely get the start versus the Leafs despite two tough losses in a row. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)
Boston had won six in a row - its longest winning streak in more than four years - and Thomas had allowed just three total goals in the last three games of that stretch heading into Monday's visit to Washington. That game saw the Bruins allow six first-period goals and Thomas get pulled twice in a 10-2 loss.
Boston (35-24-7) returned home Tuesday only to lose 1-0 in overtime to Florida, as backup goalie Alex Auld made 31 saves but the Bruins couldn't convert any of their 40 shots on goal. Boston hasn't lost three in a row since dropping six straight from Dec. 18-29.
"We're a good team, but we aren't so good that we can just rely on going out there and playing," Boston coach Claude Julien told the team's official Web site. "We're good because we are a dedicated group together, we're in sync, we work well together, and we commit to doing the things it takes to win. The minute we stop doing that, we become a very ordinary hockey club."
Thomas was worse than ordinary on Monday, when he allowed seven goals on 24 shots, putting up a single-game goals-against average of 11.51 - the worst of his career.
He'll likely be back in the crease on Thursday, but his second-worst mark came in a home game against Toronto on Jan. 4, 2007, when he allowed eight goals in 48 minutes of a game that also ended as a 10-2 Bruins loss.
"It's really tough to take," Thomas said of Monday's game. "It was embarrassing. On the other hand, what's the difference? If you lost 3-2 or you lost like that, we're still in the playoffs as of now. You definitely should learn from it, but you can't get too far down."
|Marc Savard and the Bruins will have to somehow contain Mats Sundin, who hasn't been held without a point since refusing to waive his no-trade clause last week. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)
The Bruins are tied with the New York Rangers for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and Thomas is a big reason why. He has put up career-best numbers this season with a 23-15-4 record and a 2.49 GAA.
The Maple Leafs (29-29-10) are fighting to get back in the playoff picture, but they're tied for 12th in the East. They had earned at least a point in five straight games before losing 4-1 to New Jersey on Tuesday.
"One game at a time is a cliche but you're not going to go 15-0 down the stretch," Toronto coach Paul Maurice said. "So to rebound Thursday is very important."
The Leafs, who went 3-0-1 on a recent four-game road trip, head to Boston having won the last two meetings with the Bruins after losing the first three of the season.
Toronto is 6-2-1 in its last nine games, a stretch that started with a 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins on Feb. 6.
Leafs captain Mats Sundin enters with a six-game points streak, having totaled five goals and five assists. He hasn't been held without a point since refusing to waive his no-trade clause last week.