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TAMPA, Fla. — Tim Thomas made 31 saves for his first playoff shutout this season and second overall, Andrew Ference and David Krejci scored and the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night.
Thomas, the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the top regular-season goalie, gave up nine goals in the first two games of the series that the Bruins lead 2-1.
Ference made it 2-0 with a shot from point at 8:12 of the third as the puck trickled between the legs of Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson and into the net.
Game 4 is Saturday in Tampa.
Patrice Bergeron returned to Boston’s lineup after missing two games because of a concussion sustained when he was hit by Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux in the final game of the second round.
Krejci was alone in the low slot and opened the scoring on a backhander just 1:09 into the first. Boston is 7-0 during the postseason when scoring the first goal of the game.
Krejci was briefly shaken up late in the first when he was hit in the neutral zone by Tampa Bay defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who received a minor penalty for elbowing.
Both teams were looking to play tighter defense after combining for 18 goals in the first two games.
Tampa Bay center Steven Stamkos said before the game that the Lightning wanted to avoid “run and gun hockey.” Boston center Brad Marchand added that both teams hoped to “buckle down” on defense.
Stamkos had three shot as the Lightning outshot Boston 10-8 during the first. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made a nice defensive play during the period to break up a Tampa Bay 2-on-1.
Thomas made a strong save in the first on Martin St. Louis’ shot from the low right circle. The goalie stopped 15 shots in the third.
NOTES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game. ... Tampa Bay D Pavel Kubina didn’t play and hasn’t resumed practicing. Kubina has been out since the first game of the conference semifinals against Washington when his head went into the glass on a hit. ... Bruins LW Milan Lucic played with a sore right foot and had an assist. ... Krejci has six goals and 11 points over his last seven games.