There is no doubting Tim Thomas when it comes to playing the Ottawa Senators.
The Boston Bruins goaltender earned his 10th consecutive victory over the Senators, making 29 saves in a 2-0 win before a crowd of 19,865 at Scotiabank Place on Monday night.
"I like the nice crisp air when we come visit here," he said. "When you step out of the hotel, I think it has the cleanest smelling air around."
Thomas, the reigning Vezina Trophy holder, has four shutouts this season and 16 overall.
"He was outstanding tonight," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. "He played the kind of game we know he can and, hopefully, he can build on that."
Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm scored third-period goals as the Bruins (17-11-7) halted a season high, four-game losing skid.
Brian Elliott, with a pair of shutouts in his previous five starts for the Senators (18-14-4), was solid between the pipes with 27 saves.
"It comes down to the third [period] and a couple of plays that we've got to eliminate to win the game," he said. "We had a few chances, but I don't think we tested Timmy as much as we could."
Elliott was making his 15th start (in 16 games) in place of injured netminder Pascal Leclaire (fractured cheekbone) and excelled on three Boston power plays.
Not once did Ottawa enjoy the man advantage.
"It was a huge factor," Senators head coach Cory Clouston said. "I'm not sure how that works, [but] I think it's the third time this season."
At first glance, the matchup looked to favour the Senators, who began the night unbeaten in their previous three games on home ice — 8-1-0 over the past nine there — and the stumbling Bruins on a four-game road losing streak.
But on closer inspection, Boston had taken the nine of the last 10 meetings with Ottawa.
"Again, Thomas was real big against us," Clouston said. "We've got to score to win a game and we didn't do that."
'One break was going to make the difference'
Country singer Carrie Underwood chats in the stands Monday night to a friend caught gawking at her new engagement ring from Mike Fisher of the Senators, who confirmed the news following the morning skate. Rumours began swirling Sunday when one of Underwood's friends congratulated the couple on Twitter.
"Yeah, it is true. We're both obviously excited and very happy." — Fisher
"It is great. It is a long time coming. I think there is going to be a lot of broken hearts in Ottawa with all those girls who are in love with Mikey. But he has met a great girl." — Senators enforcer Chris Neil
Ottawa outshot Boston 12-11 but neither team managed to score in a physical yet uneventful first period.
Jarkko Ruutu had a glorious opportunity to stake Ottawa to a lead, stripping Bergeron of the puck in the Boston zone and breaking in alone, only to foiled by Thomas.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson later fired wide on a 2-on-1 break, and Alex Kovalev, Ottawa's most dangerous forward on this night, was denied on a wrist shot from the off-wing and smeared against the end boards by hulking defenceman Zdeno Chara as he tried to retrieve the rebound.
Michael Ryder had the best chance for Boston, but he fired wide of the open net on a 2-on-1 break.
Early in the second period, Senators rearguard Chris Phillips burst up ice on a rare solo rush and managed a weak backhand shot that Thomas stopped. Phillips dove for the rebound, but Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk was Johnny on the Spot to clear it.
"It was one of those games where one break was going to make the difference," Alfredsson said.
Bergeron broke the scoreless deadlock 3:19 into the third period, potting a rebound after Shawn Thornton stripped Senators forward Josh Hennessy of the puck.
It was Bergeron's ninth goal this season.
Less than 10 minutes later, Marc Savard's lengthy cross-ice pass sprung Sturm and he outguessed Elliott for a breakaway goal, his 10th.
Savard, an 88-point man last season, had failed to register a point in his previous five outings.