Thomas 'hitting a groove'

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:41 AM ET

If the Maple Leafs wind up tumbling out the playoff race next spring, they might want to place some blame on Tim Thomas.

The Boston Bruins goaltender has left some early struggles behind and had another stellar outing against Toronto last night with 45 saves in a 4-1 Bruins win. It was the third time in 13 days the Bruins and Thomas beat the Leafs and in those three wins Thomas stopped 96 of 99 shots.

"Unfortunately, I have never had the puck look like a beachball," Thomas said with a smile. "I wish it would. It has never looked bigger than a puck, but it has looked smaller, that's for sure.

"I'm hitting a groove playing a lot of games."

The Leafs chased Thomas in a 6-4 win in Boston Nov. 9 and have done almost nothing against him since. The 45 saves Thomas made last night -- including four on a two-man Leafs power play that lasted one minute 41 seconds in the third period with the game tied 1-1 -- were the most the 32-year-old has put up in one game this season.

Making the past two losses harder to choke back for the Leafs was the presence of two Toronto castoffs on the scoresheets. Former first-round pick Brad Boyes scored in both games and Petr Tenkrat, who was the property of the Leafs but never played for Toronto, set up Glen Murray for the winner last night after scoring in a 3-1 win at the Air Canada Centre Saturday.

"We're becoming a team and guys are stepping up," said Bruins coach Dave Lewis, whose club has won seven of nine since the loss to the Leafs 20 days ago. "(Thomas) is seeing the puck when goalies are in that (zone) they are hard to beat."


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