After watching Tim Thomas backstop the Bruins to a 1-0 victory against Edmonton on Monday night, Julien ended his back-and-forth goalie rotation. He passed over Manny Fernandez and gave Thomas a second successive start. The decision paid immediate dividends.
Michael Ryder scored his second goal of the season midway through the first period and Thomas made the best of his 31 saves in the frame en route to a second 1-0 victory in two nights, leading the Bruins past the Canucks.
"As soon as the game was over Monday, I knew who I was going with," Julien said after Boston's third consecutive victory. "Not only did he get a shutout, but he played well. When I say something, I keep my word -- and my word is, if somebody is going to get hot, he's going to get the chance to take the ball and run with it."
Thomas, who split the first eight games with Fernandez before making 27 saves in the overtime victory against the Oilers, did exactly that. He credited playing the night before for several early stops against the Canucks less than 24 hours later.
"They got some chances right off the bat, so maybe it was a good thing I played last night because I didn't have the shakiness that you have sometimes when you don't play in a while," said Thomas, who came in with a .932 save percentage.
He got a shoulder on Alex Burrows' blast on the opening shift and a blocker on Henrik Sedin's shot during a 3-on-1 rush. That save came right before Ryder scored the only goal midway through the first period on a delayed penalty. After the goal, Thomas stopped Ryan Kesler three times in tight and closed his pads just in time to thwart Daniel Sedin's breakaway before the end of the first.
Roberto Luongo made 29 saves for the Canucks, who have lost four of five.
"At the end of the day, our top offensive players have to find a way to score goals," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, who credited the Bruins for a tough, tight-checking road victory, but took issue with their only goal.
Ryder scored after Luongo poked the loose puck away from the top of the crease. That could have triggered a whistle, but it never came and the puck went right to Ryder alone in the slot. He snapped a shot through a crowd in front.
Vigneault, however, was upset the whistle didn't blow when Boston originally dumped the puck in, arguing the play should've been stopped for icing.
"The linesman blew it," Vigneault said, adding Luongo's poke check wasn't enough to blow the play dead. "It can't just be a touch, it has to be possession."
Thomas wasn't tested often in the second period, but stopped Sami Salo's blast from the high slot early in the third. He sprawled to take an empty net away from Henrik Sedin on a power play, and stopped Mason Raymond from the slot with 4:40 left, preserving his ninth career shutout.
The Bruins, who went into Edmonton on Monday with the NHL's worst-ranked penalty-killing unit, turned aside all three power plays for a second successive night.
Thomas credited his teammates for clearing the lanes so he could see most shots, and blocking the ones he couldn't.
"The composure we kept in the third was awesome," said Thomas, who also blanked the Canucks in their only other meeting, a 39-save, 2-0 victory on Dec. 21, 2006. "Hopefully it gives us confidence that in tight games we can come out with the win, whether it's 4-3 or 1-0."
|Tim Thomas records his ninth career shutout by turning back 31 shots by the host Canucks. (Getty Images)|
|Boston (5-2-3) «||1||0||0||1|
Save Pct.: 1.000
Save Pct.: .967
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|10:16||Michael Ryder (2), Wrist Shot. Assist: Sturm, Savard|
|04:32||Ohlund, 2 min, Tripping|
|03:01||Ference, 2 min, Holding|
|16:00||Stuart, 2 min, Hooking|
|02:21||O'Brien, 2 min, Tripping|
|06:11||Ward, 2 min, Hooking|
|Shots On Goal|
|Power Play Conversions|
|Attendance - 18630|
|Referees - Dennis LaRue, Kelly Sutherland|
|Linesmen - Vaughan Rody, Brad Lazarowich|