VANCOUVER, B.C. – Unorthodox style and all, Tim Thomas is proving very tough to beat.
The Boston goaltender recorded his second shutout in two nights as the Bruins blanked the Canucks 1-0 during a rare visit to Vancouver. He recorded 30 saves many of them difficult as the Bruins (5-2-3) handed the Canucks (4-5-0) their first home loss before a sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place.
“I would say at least 25 of them were technically-correct saves,” said Thomas.
In an era of butterfly goalies, Thomas plays an unorthodox style some say is similar to the one that made multiple-Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek famous.
“He seems like he’s all over the place, but he always keeps the puck in front of him and he’s a great goaltender,” said Vancouver’s Jason Krog, who had a glorious opportunity but missed an open net.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said there was no doubt Thomas was the difference.
“He seemed pretty much in control tonight compared to some of the nights we’ve seen him,” said Julien. “The credit that this guy deserves is that he battles and he never quits. There are so many times where it seemed like an open net and the first thing you know he battles back and makes a save. That’s his forte. He takes advantage of that. He certainly motivates our club when he makes those kind of saves.”
Michael Ryder scored the game’s lone goal 10:16 into the game during a delayed Vancouver penalty with Thomas pulled in favour of a sixth attacker.
“We’ve gotta tip our hats to (Thomas) because he won that game for us,” said Boston winger Milan Lucic.
The Bruins, who beat the Oilers by an identical 1-0 count in Edmonton on Monday night, posted their third straight win while the Canucks (4-5-0) lost for the fourth time in their past five games.
“They got some chances right off the bat today, so maybe it was a good thing that I played (Monday) night, because I didn’t have the shakiness that you have sometimes when you don’t play in a while,” said Thomas.
Coaches often split goaltending duties in back-to-back games, but Julien said he decided right after the victory in Edmonton to start Thomas, even though backup Manny Fernandez enjoyed some success against the Canucks while playing for Minnesota.
“‘He was fresh enough to go back in and do a job and he proved it,” said Julien.
Thomas’s toughest test came near the end of the first period as he stopped Daniel Sedin on a clear breakaway. Steve Bernier tried a whirl-around shot on the rebound. Thomas appeared to get his toe on the puck before it hit the side of the net, but he didn’t think he touched it.
“When he’s on his game, he’s up there top of the league,” said Sedin. “It’s strange to play against him because he does different things in the net. But scoring shouldn’t be that hard. I think we had chances tonight and didn’t put them in, so it’s a little bit frustrating.”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault was frustrated that his top line featuring Daniel Sedin, his twin brother Henrik and Bernier couldn’t score, considering the ample ice time that they received.
“When we shut down the opposition the way we did, our offensive players have got to find a way to score goals for us,” said Vigneault.
The Bruins outshot the Canucks 31-30 but Vancouver enjoyed many more dangerous chances. Thomas stonewalled Vancouver’s power play on three opportunities after the Canucks went 4-for-6 Saturday in a victory over Edmonton.
Thomas was particularly sharp in the second period, when the Canucks had two of their man-advantage situations.
It was the first meeting between the teams in Vancouver since December 4, 2005. They last played each other in December 2006 in Boston.
Because of the NHL’s imbalanced schedule, they have only faced each other six times since 2002.
NOTES-Defenceman Sami Salo returned to Vancouver’s lineup after missing two games and most of a third with a groin injury . . . Sidelined Canuck winger Rick Rypien’s viral infection has been re-diagnosed as a sports hernia that will require surgery . . . Lucic received another 2007 Memorial Cup championship ring Tuesday morning to replace one that was stolen from his family’s Vancouver home in July. Lucic, 20, led the Giants to the 2007 national major junior title and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. He played his first NHL game in his hometown Tuesday night after unexpectedly cracking the Bruins roster as a rookie last season . . . Giants players, coaches and management were among 80-100 of Lucic’s friends and family who attended the game . . . Boston’s Phil Kessel, 21, played his 135th consecutive contest since missing 11 games after undergoing testicular cancer surgery in early 2007. Kessel’s milestone was timely, because Tuesday’s game was designated Vancouver’s awareness night in the league’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign.