If Tuesday night's game against the Boston Bruins was Tim Thomas' last as a member of the Florida Panthers, former teammate David Krejci made sure to give Thomas a going-away present.
Krejci scored once in the first period, once in the second period, and once in the third period, leading the Bruins to a convincing 4-1 victory over the Panthers. The first line of Krejci, Jarome Iginla (goal and assist) and Milan Lucic (assist) combined for six points and looked crisp for the second straight game. Lucic also contributed with a first period fight with Panthers' enforcer Krys Barch, who also fought Shawn Thornton in the second period.
Thomas made 35 saves on the night for the Panthers, who acquired fellow goaltender Roberto Luongo in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks earlier in the day. The NHL trade deadline is Wednesday at 3pm, meaning there is a chance that Thomas will be moved prior to Luongo arriving in Florida. Thomas and Luongo faced each other in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, with the two goalies famously squaring off in the media on several occasions during the Finals, making it more likely that Thomas will be traded by the deadline.
Many contenders may be looking for a veteran backup goalie for the playoff push, but the Bruins will not be one of them, especially when their backup plays at home. Chad Johnson had 23 saves against the Panthers, only allowing a late third period goal to Brian Campbell. Johnson moved his home record to a perfect 7-0-0 with the victory, and has a solid 12-3-1 overall record as primary goalie Tuukka Rask's backup.
Thomas' defense did him no favors against the Bruins, surrendering many turnovers in their own end, leading to quality chances and eventually goals for the B's. After a Florida turnover at neutral ice in the first period, Krejci took the puck and dumped it into the Panthers zone behind Thomas' goal. The Panthers defense looked like they had things under control, with both Brian Campbell and Tom Gilbert beating Lucic to the puck behind the goal. The defensemen coughed up the puck, giving it away to Krejci, who was parked right in front of a surprised Thomas. Krejci faked a quick shot, getting Thomas off balance before firing a wrist shot over his blocker for the game's first goal at 7:29 in the first period.
Jarome Iginla struck for his 549th career goal just three and a half minutes later on a breakout with Jordan Caron. Iginla fed Caron cross ice on the break, with Caron's shot rising up on Thomas. Thomas made an awkward save, with the rebound going directly onto Iginla's stick. Iginla rifled the rebound into the vacant Panthers' net, as Thomas was late to cover the right side of the net after he came out of the crease for Caron's shot on his far left. Caron was playing on the third line filling in for Loui Eriksson, who missed the game with a "minor issue" according to coach Claude Julien. Caron had only played two games since the start of 2014, being a healthy scratch in 17 of the last 19 games.
Another rebound, this time off a blocked shot, led to Krejci's second goal of the night, giving the Bruins a 3-0 lead late in the second period. Krejci fed the puck back to defenseman Kevan Miller, who blasted a slap shot just inside the Panthers' zone. The shot was blocked by Florida's Dylan Olsen, with the rebound finding Krejci, who was once again parked in front of Thomas' net. Krejci again hesitated before going top shelf on Thomas, with the puck hitting the back crossbar and coming back out of the net. After a quick video review, the goal was confirmed for Krejci's 15th of the year.
Krejci added an empty net goal, assisted by Iginla and Lucic, with 13.3 seconds remaining in the game for the hat trick. It was the third time in Krejci's career that he tallied a trio of goals, giving Bruins' fans a great reason to ditch their old hats onto the ice. While the ice crew was collecting hats off the playing surface, an announcement that hats in the pro shop were 20% off was made over the loud speakers. Tim Thomas gear may be a larger percentage off in a few short hours, with Krejci and his former team giving him a rude present on his way out of Florida.