BOSTON -- Sometimes a 28-year-old journeyman making his season debut prevails in a duel with the reigning Vezina Trophy winner and all the player with the hardware and two All-Star appearances can do is just chalk it up to a bad night.
That's how it went for Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas Thursday night in a 2-1 loss at TD Garden to former Brown University standout Yann Danis and the New Jersey Devils. Two awkward bounces ruined a 29-save performance by Thomas.
Both goals trickled through his 5-hole and were tapped in by New Jersey forwards: David Clarkson scored the first one, and Dainius Zubrus got the winner with 1:26 remaining. Both were similar to a goal Thomas allowed to Colin Wilson on Oct. 21 against Nashville.
An alarming trend? Here's Thomas' take:
"One was a 2-on-1, the guy [Nicklas Bergfors] that was the shooter came in and shot from like 3 feet away; a riser," Thomas said. "And then the second one was a shot by [Jamie] Langenbrunner that was kind of bouncing that [Zach] Parise whacked at. It was bouncing all over the place, so actually they weren't really similar at all except for where they kind of ended up. I get a piece of them to stop it, but it's right behind me."
The Bruins might have been able to bail Thomas out on the first goal, but Andrew Ference's pinch in the offensive zone left the club down a defenseman by the time Bergfors beat Shawn Thornton down ice and fired the shot. On the second goal, there was nothing Zdeno Chara or Derek Morris could have done.
"I'm not going to sit here and start pointing a finger at Timmy," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I am just saying that both goals were loose pucks that were right behind him that we weren't able to clear, and Timmy wasn't able to freeze. Those were the two goals they got. They didn't have a ton of chances, and we didn't, either.
"It was really one of those things, it is unfortunate, had the bounce gone our way, it would have been a great win for us."
When asked whether he was fighting the puck a bit, Thomas said, "Not at all." But there were some shaky moments in the third period, including a shot that went off his mask and shoulder.
Then there was the gesture Thomas made toward Clarkson after the forward fired a shot on net and streaked toward the crease. Thomas, who raised both his arms toward Clarkson, said he was just bracing himself. Clarkson thought otherwise and had some words for the goaltender.
"And you know how it goes," Thomas remarked.
Thomas is a pedestrian 4-4-1 with a 2.86 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Still, things are looking up even if the bounces and the journeyman (Danis with 31 saves) got the better of him Thursday night.