Thomas leads Bruins to sixth win in eight gamesNov 26, 2006 - 2:44 AM
Thomas made 27 saves and Petr Tenkrat and Marc Savard scored for the Bruins, who won for the sixth time in eight games with a 3-1 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The 32-year-old Thomas was 12-13-10 in 2005-06 in a reserve role behind Raycroft, a former Calder Trophy winner who was traded to Toronto on June 24. Thomas made his 15th straight appearance and raised his record to 3-0-1 lifetime against the Maple Leafs.
"Toronto is 10 points ahead of us in the standings going into this game so it's pretty important to get those points," Thomas said.
Toronto's Jeff O'Neill was stopped on consecutive shots with 8:00 left in the second period. After Thomas blocked O'Neill's first attempt in front, his rebound was denied by the skate of captain Zdeno Chara, who dove over Thomas to keep the puck from reaching the goal line.
"It was a pass to the slot. I saw it go off O'Neill's foot and I turned around and saw Zdeno save it," Thomas said. "That was a huge point in the game. It could've have been 2-1. Instead, we were up, 2-0."
"I saw the puck was rolling to the net," Chara said. "I just dove and tried to kick it."
The Bruins opened the scoring at 6:31 of the first period when Tenkrat unleashed a wrister in the slot that beat Raycroft inside the right goalpost.
Savard doubled the margin nearly eight minutes later with a one-timer from the right faceoff circle of Patrice Bergeron's cross-ice feed for his sixth of the season.
Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin returned after missing seven games with an elbow injury and halved the deficit with 7:56 remaining when he knocked in a rebound of Darcy Tucker's blast from inside the blue line.
"I believe it got tipped on the way to me," Thomas said. "I was trying to throw my body at it. I didn't know where the puck was. I think Sundin might have been the only one on the ice who knew where it was."
"We got ourselves back in the game (and) we had a lot of chances but it was too late," Sundin said. "Especially at home, you want to come out strong but we didn't do that tonight."
However, Brad Boyes recorded an insurance goal with 4:16 to play when he found the gap between Raycroft's pads, helping Boston win the first contest of a home-and-home series.
"Our power play has been a lot better," Boyes said. "(We're) scoring key goals. Guys are sacrificing more, blocking shots (and) we're starting to come together as a team."
Raycroft stopped 22 shots and slipped to 11-6-2 for Toronto, which has lost two of its three meetings with Boston this season.
"We had difficulty moving the puck in the neutral zone," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "We couldn't get the puck. We couldn't make the pass. ... Thirty-six times, we got it either blocked or missed the net. That's not very good."
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