Thomas stops Sens again

Senators forward Mike Fisher collides with Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk as goalie Tim Thomas...

Senators forward Mike Fisher collides with Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk as goalie Tim Thomas looks on at Scotiabank Place on Monday. (QMI Agency/Andre Forget)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

There’s just something about Tim Thomas that has the Senators a bit baffled.

And it’s not just a recent problem. Thomas, who hasn’t lost to the Senators since Nov. 4, 2007, picked up his fourth career shutout against Ottawa on the strength of goals by Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm in a 2-0 win last night.

With the Senators playing their final home game at Scotiabank Place before Christmas, the Boston Bruins goalie gift-wrapped the two points for his teammates with 29 saves in his 10th consecutive victory over Ottawa in front of a sellout crowd of 19,865.

“That’s 10 in a row? I had no idea,” said Thomas. “I like the nice crisp air when we come visit here.”

“Again ... (Thomas) was real big against us,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “We’ve got to score a goal to win a game ... we didn’t do that.”

Asked if Thomas was in the Senators’ heads, captain Daniel Alfredsson said: “You’ll have to ask him. I don’t feel we have that against him.”

While Senators goalie Brian Elliott was solid, he didn’t get any offensive help as Ottawa was held scoreless for the first time this season.

Bergeron broke a 0-0 tie at 3:19 of the third. After a giveaway by Josh Hennessy in the Ottawa zone, Bergeron picked up a bad rebound of a Shawn Thornton shot. Sturm sealed it by beating Elliott on the stick side at 13:07 of the third.

Twice this season, the Senators have blown two-goal leads against the Bruins, losing 4-3 each time. Last night, Ottawa really didn’t give itself much of a chance to win, especially with Thomas in the net.

“When you lose, you never do enough,” said Alfredsson. “They’re a team that plays low-scoring games pretty much every night. That first goal was going to be huge.”

There were plenty of chances on Elliott and Thomas, but they either came up with a big save, the shooter missed the net or the puck slipped away.

Clouston decided to go back to Elliott, even after Mike Brodeur’s stellar 22-save performance in a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild Saturday at home. But, with Pascal Leclaire ready to return tomorrow against Pittsburgh, this could be Elliott’s last stand for a while.

Elliott was strong on the puck, challenging the shooter and making some good stops in the second, especially on three or four tips and redirections that gave the Bruins good chances to score.

“Both teams played really well,” said Elliott, who made 27 stops. “We had a few chances, but I don’t think we tested (Thomas) as much as we could have.”

Clouston had preached patience. The way this game played tested just about everybody’s.

The Senators did a good job killing off three Boston power plays in the first 40 minutes and that was a big reason why this one was so close.

Clouston wasn’t happy about the fact his club never got a power-play opportunity and the Bruins had three.

“It’s a huge factor,” said Clouston. “I’m not sure how that works. I think it’s the third time this year.”

This was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. Elliott hasn’t had a lot of good luck against the Bruins this year so a victory would have been a good boost for his confidence.

Like Elliott, Thomas didn’t get a lot of work, but stopped Jarkko Ruutu in alone in the first. Sure, there were plenty of shots, but most were from the perimeter. He saw everything. The Senators will not have success against Thomas if they don’t get their noses dirty.

The Senators travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins tomorrow before the two-day Christmas break. Game time is 7 p.m.


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