Tim Thomas put in a faultless display as Boston blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 on Thursday, allowing the Bruins to regain home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference final.
Thomas was rock solid, facing 31 shots to notch his second career post-season shutout as the Bruins grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 also in Tampa today.
After two free-wheeling games in Boston that produced 18 goals, Game 3 turned into a defensive struggle between Thomas and Lightning goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Thomas, a Vezina trophy finalist, had surrendered nine goals in the opening two contests, but could not be beaten in Tampa as the Lightning outshot the visitors 31-25.
“We played more the way we wanted to play,” Thomas told -reporters. “The first two games I don’t think either team played the way they wanted to. That felt more like a normal game. That felt like the game we played most of the season. Playoffs are always more faster and more energy and a few more scoring chances than a regular season game. But that was Boston Bruins hockey.”
Before the capacity crowd had settled into their seats, David Krejci had given the Bruins a 1-0 lead, taking a feed from Milan Lucic and backhanding it past Roloson just 69 seconds after the opening faceoff.
After a scoreless second period, Andrew Ference gave the Bruins some breathing room midway through the third when his blast from the point trickled between Roloson’s pads and into the net.
“Tonight’s game probably resembles a lot more of what I think everybody expected from this -series, two teams that make it hard for you to score,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We made some stronger plays, some better decisions and seemed a little bit more aware out there of what was going on. So comparing it to last game where I thought it was pretty sloppy, I thought we bounced back well tonight.”
? THRASHERS DEAL
The National Hockey League will return to Winnipeg next year under an agreement reached by a Canadian business group to buy the financially strapped Atlanta Thrashers, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
True North Sports and Entertainment will buy the franchise and relocate it in the Canadian prairie city, according to a report in the Globe and Mail, which cited unnamed sources.
The report did not mention a value on the deal.
True North confirmed for the first time on Thursday that it was having talks with the current owners, Atlanta Spirit LLC, but denied any agreement had yet been reached.
Talks between the two parties started months ago, according to media reports.
“They’re not done,” Scott Brown, a spokesman for True North said, referring to the talks. He also denied that an announcement was likely on Tuesday, as the Globe had reported.
The relocation of the NHL franchise would fill a void in the city created in 1996 when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix, Arizona, as part of a league strategy of bringing professional ice hockey to US Sunbelt cities.