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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fear not, Tim Thomas is still in the zone

There would be no post-All-Star break hangover for Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins.

After spending all weekend in North Carolina for the All-Star festivities, Thomas and Zdeno Chara got to spend a few extra days there as their teammates met up with them for last night's game at the RBC Center vs. the Carolina Hurricanes.

All in all, it was great to have some real hockey back as Thomas (24 saves; 25-5-6) continued to play like a man possessed and the Bruins (29-15-7) likewise played well with a playoff-like 3-2 win over the Hurricanes (25-20-6).

With the victory, Boston clinched the season series (three out of four) but let me be the first to say that I feel like they're going to see Carolina in the playoffs this spring and that is not something to look forward to since they're a solid team with a very good goaltender in Cam Ward (30 saves).

The goaltender duel between Thomas and Ward was expected. What was surprising for the Bs was who decided to hit the back of the net: namely Nathan Horton and Daniel Paille. It had been 11 games since Horton had scored a goal and Paille (who is arguably the last man on the roster) scored his first of the season. A nice reward for two hard-working players.

After a scoreless first period, that was only notable for a rare Milan Lucic fight (vs. Jay Harrison), Paille scored at 4:14 of the second period from Chara and Shawn Thornton. Paille tipped Chara's shot beautifully past Ward. It's ironic that he got a goal since in the first period he hit the post and later in the game he had a wide open shot which he put right in Ward's pads. Such is the life of Daniel Paille.

Jamie McBain tied it for the Hurricanes at 11:25 of the second from Sergei Samsonov and Erik Cole. McBain was in the right place (next to Thomas) when the puck magically found him through traffic.

Boston put it away with a quick pair early in the third period from Horton (assisted by David Krejci and Chara) and Patrice Bergeron (from Mark Recchi and Andrew Ference). Horton picked up a goal-scorer's goal, roofing it quickly over Ward while Bergeron took advantage of a Brad Marchand screen to get his 17th of the season.

There were some tense moments as Carolina's Joe Corvo scored on the power-play at 8:05 (from Cole and Samsonov) but Thomas stood on his head and Boston was able to come home with two points.

The Bs have another big test tomorrow night as they host the Dallas Stars, quietly one of the Western Conference's best team. I was shocked when I looked at their record at how well they've been playing. I'm interested to see what they're all about.

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