Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas let in nine goals in the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals but proved why he’s a Vezina Trophy candidate by shutting the door in Game 3.
Thomas made 31 saves and David Krejci and Andrew Ference scored to lift the Bruins to a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
The Bruins now lead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with the puck dropping for Game 4 on Saturday in Tampa.
Krejci stood all alone in front of the net and put it past Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson just 1:09 into the first for his team-leading seventh goal of the post-season.
Ference boosted Boston’s lead to two at 8:12 into the third with a slapshot that trickled past Roloson with Chris Kelly providing the screen in front of the netminder.
Roloson slammed the door on 23 shots but it wasn’t enough to outshine Thomas, who stopped 15 in the third period alone.
Patrice Bergeron made a triumphant return to the ice, having missed the first two games of the series due to a concussion. Bergeron was a force to be reckoned with at the face-off circle, winning the majority of the puck drops with 18.
Tampa Bay suffered from a number of defensive breakdowns in Game 2 of the series, leading to their first defeat since April 20 and Thursday’s game was no different. For the second game in a row, Boston managed to force the turnovers in the Tampa zone, effectively holding Tampa to one end of the ice.
Zdeno Chara contributed in a big way to Boston’s success, giving Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier little breathing room in their few forays into the Bruins’ territory.
The Lightning have some ground to regain and some serious defensive restructuring to manage before Game 4 of the series if they hope to beat the bear and bring the series back to an even keel.