OTTAWA – Tim Thomas provided a breath of fresh air for the struggling Boston Bruins.
Thomas stopped 29 shots for his fourth shutout of the season as the Bruins halted a four-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday. Thomas has now won ten straight against the Senators, but isn’t sure why he’s had so much success against the Bruins’ Northeast Division rival.
“I don’t know,” Thomas said. “I like the nice crisp air when we come visit here. When you step out of the hotel I think it has the cleanest smelling air around.”
The 35-year-old Vezina Trophy winner was sharp as he continues to lobby for a spot with the U.S. team at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
“He was outstanding tonight,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “He played the kind of game we know he can and hopefully he can build on that.”
Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm scored for the Bruins (17-11-7).
Brian Elliott stopped 29 shots in defeat for the Senators (18-14-4), who created numerous chances but couldn’t beat Thomas.
“Again, Thomas was real big against us,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “We’ve got to score to win a game and we didn’t do that.”
Thomas looked sharp from the start as the Senators had the early jump, but saves on Josh Hennessy and Jesse Winchester set the tone.
The two teams remained scoreless after two periods as both goaltenders were perfect and sometimes lucky.
“It was one of those games where one break was going to make the difference,” said Ottawa forward Daniel Alfredsson.
The Bruins had two power-play opportunities in the second, but were unable to create any real threat. Boston was 0-for-3 on the night.
The Senators never even got a chance to play with the man advantage much to the ire of Clouston.
“It’s a huge factor,” he said. “I’m not sure how that works. I think it’s the third time this season.”
Elliott, who has played 14 of the last 15 games while Pascal Leclaire recuperates from surgery on his fractured cheekbone, had been inconsistent for the most part, but looked solid Monday.
The Bruins finally managed to beat Elliott early in the third as Bergeron scored low stick side. Hennessy failed to clear the puck and Shawn Thornton threw it at the net, where Erik Karlsson put little effort in clearing the puck – allowing Bergeron to jump in and give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins expanded the lead with just under seven minutes remaining when Sturm beat Elliott with a wrist shot after Ottawa’s Alexandre Picard failed to tie up Sturm as he broke in alone.
“It comes down to the third and a couple of plays that we’ve got to eliminate to win the game,” said Elliot. “We had a few chances, but I don’t think we tested Timmy as much as we could.”
Notes: Ottawa was without Leclaire, RW Chris Neil (knee, day-to-day), C Jason Spezza (knee, six weeks), LW Nick Foligno (lower body, out indefinitely) and RW Shean Donovan (knee, eight weeks) … Boston’s Mark Recchi played his 1,525th NHL game, moving him past Brendan Shanahan for 10th place on the NHL’s all-time list. … The Bruins were without LW Milan Lucic (ankle, two weeks), D Mark Stuart (sternum, one month) and D Derek Morris (undisclosed, day-to-day). D Andy Wozniewski was a healthy scratch.