Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig of South Africa, right, drops to the ice to make a save on a shot by Boston Bruins center Phil Kessel in the second period of their hockey game in Boston, Thursday Jan. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston, MA - Boston's Tim Thomas earned a 2-0 shutout, the fifth of his NHL/Bruins career, when he led the Bruins to victory over the Washington Capitals with 31 saves Thursday night in the TD Banknorth Garden. Forward Marc Savard and defenseman Zdeno Chara both scored and Glen Metropolit had two assists.
Bruins defenseman Shane Hnidy, acquired yesterday via trade, played over twelve minutes despite taking a red-eye flight from California and arriving in Boston early Thursday morning.
"It was good to get one," said Thomas of the shutout. "There are no easy shutouts in the NHL...There are no easy games."
Coming into the contest, the Boston Bruins had snapped their six-game losing streak at 0-5-1 with a 5-2 victory over Atlanta on New Years Eve. Meanwhile, the Caps arrived in Boston having won their last two games and earning points out of their last five games.
Both clubs desperately needed important points for playoff standing and the intensity was there early.
Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic, left, sends Washington Capitals center Brooks Laich of Sweden flying as they collide in the third period of their hockey game in Boston, Thursday Jan. 3, 2008. The Bruins won 2-0. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
That was immediately apparent when Boston's rookie power forward Milan Lucic faced off against veteran Washington defenseman John Erskine in some pugilism shortly after the first face off, at just 2:38 of the first period.
The Capitals seemed to take the play to Boston in the early going, but Boston's Thomas was equal to the task and stopped a clean breakaway from the Caps Tomas Fleischmann at 5:35.
As the period progressed, Boston began to tilt the play towards Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig, who matched his Boston counterpart save-for-save, including a sprawling split stop on Marco Sturm with just over a minute to play in the first period.
As a result, the Bruins and Caps went to the locker room for the first break tied, 0-0.
The second period remained a goaltending battle until Savard, who had been serving a penalty for hooking jumped out of the sin bin and joined a developing Bruins rush. He grabbed a pass from Metropolit between the hash marks directly in front of Kolzig shot, grabbed his own rebound, shot again and scored his 9th goal of the season at 13:35.
"Savvy jumped right out of the box," said Metropolit of the play. "We gave it a little give-and-go (and) he beat his guy to the net."
"It was a great goal for us."
Donald Brashear, normally known for his boxing skills, ended up on a breakaway with just under two minutes left in the period, but Thomas came out to meet him and smothered the Capitals scoring chance.
Thanks to 24 saves from Thomas through two periods, Boston remained in control of the scoreboard and went to the second break with a 1-0 lead.
Washington Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig, of South Africa, reaches up but can't make the save on a goal by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara in the third period of their hockey game in Boston, Thursday Jan. 3, 2008. The Bruins beat the Caps 2-0. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A back-and-forth third period led to several good chances for both teams, but none so dangerous as Alex Ovechkin's pair of point blank shots on Thomas at 8:02. The Boston goalie stayed square, albeit in a modified split, to the talented shooter and saved both bids.
A scary moment occurred when fan-favorite Lucic went down with a bloody cut inflicted by Washington's Mike Green. Green inadvertently caught the young winger over the right eye with his stick and was given a double minor. At the same time Washington was also assessed a penalty for too-many-men-on-the-ice.
That led to Chara's power play goal at the 10-minute mark of the final stanza.
"It was late in the game and the ice wasn't in great shape," said Chara. "(I) decided to take a shot...it went in."
Lucic, stitched up, returned to finish the contest and ended with 12:25 minutes played.
The two goals were enough for Thomas, who stopped all seven shots he saw in the third to ensure the "zero."
"Timmy was making saves for us," said Chara. "Everyone was playing (hard) and we were playing well defensively.
"It is so important for this team to think defense first.
"We have to take care of our zone...and go step by step," he said.
The next step will occur against New Jersey on Saturday.
· Tim Thomas' 2-0 win over Washington tonight was his first shutout of the season and fifth of his career.
· It was the Bruins third shutout of the season and all three have come by different goaltenders – Manny Fernandez earned a 1-0 shootout victory over the NY Rangers on Oct. 20 and Alex Auld notched a 2-0 win over Columbus on Dec. 15.
· The last time the Bruins had shutouts by three different goaltenders in the same season was in 1997-98 with Jim Carey (two), Byron Dafoe (six) and Robbie Tallas (one) all contributing shutouts.
· The Bruins extended their point streak over Washington to 11 games at 9-0-1-1 with tonight's 2-0 win.
· The Bruins also extended their home point streak over the capitals to 11 games at 8-0-2-1.