BOSTON - With little attention being paid to the home team, Boston still came away with the victory.
Phil Kessel scored two goals to lead the Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
While the Red Sox took on the Colorado Rockies at Fenway Park in Game 2 of the World Series and second-ranked Boston College played at Virginia Tech, the 17,565-seat Garden was less than half-filled for the only matchup this season between two of the NHL's original six franchises.
"You have to remember, I came from New Jersey so I am used to this," chuckled first-year Bruins coach Claude Julien. "Once the Red Sox win the World Series, hopefully we will have enough wins behind us that those fans will want to come watch us."
Tim Thomas made 26 saves in improving to 4-1 this season. He entered the game with a league-leading 1.26 goals against average. Boston has won five of six overall and has allowed two goals in three home games.
"It looks like he is under control more," Bruins defenceman Andrew Alberts said of Thomas. "He is more composed than last year and with our defensive system, he knows where the shots are coming from."
Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin hasn't won in Boston since 1996 with an 0-5-2 record.
"I told the guys after the game that I was proud," Blackhawks coach Denis Savard said. "We completely out-chanced them, but it just didn't go our way."
Kessel scored 2:08 into the second period on an end-to-end rush that ended with him wristing a shot past Khabibulin.
"It was tough for the guys to get into it," Bruins forward Marc Savard said. "We know everybody is watching the Sox and we are going to do the same, but we had to create our own energy."
Jonathan Toews tied the game at the 5:13 mark of the second with Chicago on a two-man advantage. Toews, who beat Thomas through a screen, has eight points in his last eight games.
"We deserved a lot more," Toews said, "but if we keep doing the right things then good things should happen."
Kessel scored the game-winner on another impressive individual effort when he sidestepped Blackhawks defenceman Magnus Johansson and flipped the puck past Khabibulin with 5:51 remaining in the second. He has five goals this season after scoring 11 in 2006-07.
Glen Metropolit capped off the scoring for Boston with his first of the season with 12:52 remaining.
Notes: Blackhawks F David Koci left the ice with his face covered in blood at the 11:42 mark of the first period after engaging in a fight with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. ... Chicago D Andrei Zyuzin left the game with a pulled muscle. ... Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane didn't record a point after scoring nine in the last three games. ... Boston is 3-0-0 at home. ... The announced attendance was 10,290.