CALGARY – A week of rest was all Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas needed to get back on track.
The all-star netminder made 28 saves and Milan Lucic scored twice Tuesday as the Bruins downed the Calgary Flames 3-1.
Thomas was playing for the first time in a week after getting a two-game rest from Bruins coach Claude Julien. The 36-year-old came into the contest having lost consecutive games for the first time all the season, giving up eight goals in the process.
“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.
Thomas made it back into the win column with a victory against one of the NHL’s hottest teams. Calgary entered the night a sizzling 11-1-2 in its past 14.
Trailing 1-0 early in the third, the Flames had a great chance to tie the game but Thomas slid across to deny Jarome Iginla after the Flames captain and Alex Tanguay worked a perfect give-and-go in the slot.
“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.”
Later in the period, Thomas threw out an arm to get a piece of Cory Sarich’s point shot that then went off the post.
“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 had the other goal for Boston (34-19-7).
Curtis Glencross replied with his 20th goal for Calgary (31-23-8), breaking Thomas’ shutout bid at 17:27 of the third to get the Flames within a goal.
Lucic clinched the win for the Bruins into an empty net with 47 seconds remaining.
“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 (seven goals, five assists).
Boston opened the scoring less than a minute into the game on a pretty setup from David Krejci.
Skating down the wing, Krejci faked a slapshot and sent a hard pass across the slot to Lucic, who neatly steered his 25th goal behind Miikka Kiprusoff before bowling over the Flames goaltender.
The line of Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton was Boston’s dominated play most of the night.
“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. Kiprusoff kicked out Patrice Bergeron’s shot from the wing straight to Marchand, who buried his 19th goal into the open net.
“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.”
The Flames lost in regulation at home for the first time in 10 games (7-1-2). 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.”
Kiprusoff, making his 14th straight start, made 26 saves and saw his record fall to 27-20-4.
The Northeast Division-leading Bruins pulled into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference with the idle Tampa Bay Lightning.
Boston, the NHL’s third best road team, is a perfect 3-0 halfway through a season-high stretch of six straight road games. The Bruins are not back in action until Saturday night when they play the Vancouver Canucks.
Notes: Rich Peverley made his Bruins debut, playing ona line with Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder. … Calgary G Henrik Karlsson has played just seven minutes since Jan. 21. The 27-year-old Swede has won his last two starts. … Boston’s last road win against the Flames was Oct. 18, 1997. They were 0-4-1 in their previous five visits to the Scotiabank Saddledome. … In games in which Boston takes a 2-0 lead, they are 19-0-1. … The Bruins are 33-4-4 when in games in which they take the lead.