- The Washington Times - Friday, January 4, 2008

BOSTON — The Washington Capitals were an offensive juggernaut the past two games against the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa Senators.

Not so much against goaltending nemesis Tim Thomas.

Thomas made 31 saves and improved his career record to 8-0-1 against the Caps as he helped his Boston Bruins to a 2-0 victory last night at TD Banknorth Garden. The loss snapped a streak of five straight games with at least a point for the Caps (3-0-2), and Boston has now earned at least a point in 11 consecutive contests against Washington (9-0-1-1).

“It was terrible game in the season for us,” Alex Ovechkin said. “We don’t move, we don’t shoot the puck. I don’t know what happen to us. We were sleepy today — everybody. I think only Olie [Kolzig] play well for us.”

The Caps had several chances in the first half of the first period, but could not solve Thomas. Opportunities were tougher to come by the rest of the game, and Thomas continued to have the answers.

The 33-year-old former journeyman netminder has found a home in Boston, but he has remained stellar against Washington. One of the few remaining goaltenders with an unorthodox style, Thomas had a 2.04 goals against average against the Caps before last night and his eight wins are the most against any team.

“I’ve always thought Tim Thomas was a great goaltender and he showed it tonight,” said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who is now 10-6-4. “He beat us [Hershey] all the time when he was with Providence [of the American Hockey League]. I just think he plays good.”

Added Michael Nylander: “We created the scoring chances, but we didn’t finish them off. We have to give [Thomas] credit. He played a great game.”

The Caps were missing two of their top offensive players. Alexander Semin and Tom Poti did not play because of injuries incurred during Tuesday’s 6-3 win against Ottawa. Neither practiced Wednesday, but Boudreau said he assumed Semin could play despite a tailbone injury. Poti missed the game with an upper body injury, but he did accompany the team to Boston, while Semin did not.

Defenseman Brian Pothier, who played with a broken thumb, did not play in the third period and is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Pothier was put hard into the boards by power forward Milan Lucic early in the second, but did continue to take a regular shift for the rest of the period.

“We’ve been missing people all year,” Nylander said. “It is just another game where we have to play with the team we have. We have to believe we can do it with the team we have on the ice.”

Marc Savard put the Bruins in front 13:35 into the period. Savard hopped out of the penalty box and tracked down a dump in to the left of Kolzig. His first shot never made it to the net, but Savard collected it and wristed it past a mass of bodies for his ninth marker of the season.

Penalties at the 9:24 mark of the third period crippled Washington’s chances of mounting a comeback. Mike Green was hit with a double-minor for high-sticking and the Caps were caught with too many men on the ice.

Boston had a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes, but the Bruins wouldn’t need long. Towering defenseman Zdeno Chara’s slapshot from the right point beat a diving Kolzig inside the far post 36 seconds later. Kolzig fell to the ice because Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz lost his balance in the crease and placed his hand on the netminder’s shoulder to steady himself.

The Caps felt Chuck Kobasew had pushed Shultz into Kolzig.

“I’m sure if the refs saw a replay of it they might have called a penalty on it and negated the goal,” said Kolzig, who made 28 saves. “We didn’t get the call, but hopefully that evens out whether it is in Montreal or down the line.”

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