NEW YORK (AP) – Boston’s Tim Thomas has probably been the best goaltender in the NHL in the early going. He may have to continue his dominant play to beat the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who has been at his best against the Bruins throughout his career.
Coming off a shutout in his last start, Thomas is likely to face Lundqvist at Madison Square Garden as he tries to cool down the streaking Rangers on Wednesday night.
Boston (9-5-1) avoided a third straight defeat Monday behind Thomas, who made 28 saves for his league-high fourth shutout of the season, 3-0 over New Jersey. He improved to 9-1-0 with a 1.31 goals-against average – second-best in the league.
“I just felt like they weren’t going to find a way to score,” Thomas said.
While that statement could apply to many of his opponents this season, it wasn’t the case against the Rangers (10-7-1) in his last two matchups with them. Boston lost 3-1 on Jan. 9 at TD Garden and 1-0 at MSG on Nov. 1, 2009.
Lundqvist opposed Thomas in both games as he continued to put together impressive performances versus the Bruins. He has won four of his last five starts in the series, pushing his record against Boston to 14-4-2 with four shutouts and a 1.42 GAA – his best against any opponent.
He defeated the Bruins and Tuukka Rask 3-2 on Oct. 23, stopping 35 shots in the teams’ only meeting this season.
Lundqvist helped the Rangers win their third in a row Monday, 3-2 in overtime over Pittsburgh. Ryan Callahan scored 3:38 into the extra period for New York, which answered two Penguins goals 38 seconds apart with Marc Staal’s short-handed tally – after Lundqvist was pulled for an extra attacker – with 1:26 left in regulation.
Lundqvist made 37 saves, 12 in the frantic third period.
“Hank made some huge saves, which is what you have to do against a team like that,” coach John Tortorella said.
Callahan ended a six-game goal drought for New York, which managed to win despite being short-handed for six minutes over the final 7:28.
“I think it helps your team in the long run playing these types of games against top-notch teams like Pittsburgh,” Tortorella said.
Tortorella might want to implore his club not to get behind Wednesday. Boston is 7-0 this season when recording the first goal.
“We realized the importance of the start, and I thought we really did a good job establishing that,” captain Zdeno Chara said after the win over the Devils.
Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk (wrist), who has missed nine games, could return against the Rangers.
New York has gone 7-3-0 in the last 10 matchups with Boston, and has won five straight and 11 of 13 meetings at home.
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