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Thomas, Sobotka Look Sharp as B’s Top Habs

All but one of Montreal’s 34 shots were swatted away by B’s goalie Tim Thomas Thursday night in a tight game with the Canadiens. The contest ended with a Patrice Bergeron shootout goal, giving Boston a 2-1 road win at the Bell Centre.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Montreal lit the lamp in the first minute of the second period, as Sergei Kostitsyn tapped a rebound past Thomas to give the Habs an early 1-0 lead. Boston evened the score at the top of the third period, as defenseman Mark Stuart, who has had an exceptional training camp, potted a pretty backhand past Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak, off a feed from ex-Hab Michael Ryder, who was still being booed by the Canadiens faithful every time he touched the puck. 

The game went to overtime knotted at one goal apiece, and after a scoreless five minutes of four-on-four hockey, the game was decided via the shootout, as Bergeron’s forehand drive through Halak’s five-hole nets Boston the 2-1 victory.

While not making his mark on the scoresheet, coach Claude Julien did have nothing but positive remarks to make about the play of young forward Vladimir Sobotka, who is battling for a spot with the big club. Sobotka’s edgy, gritty, in-your-face style shined bright in the victory, leading the team with four hits, while landing two shots on net. Sobotka’s efforts may be enough to land him fourth line duty next week when Boston opens the regular season at the TD Garden against Washington.

Thursday’s win pushes Boston’s preseason record to an impressive 4-1-1. The B’s continue their preseason schedule Friday night in Ottawa against the Senators, followed by a preseason wrap-up at the Garden with Columbus Saturday evening. In that game Saturday, Julien plans to play what will likely be his starting lineup as the regular season begins.

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