Tim Thomas took on Fredrik Sjostrom after Sean Avery’s drive-by whack. (Winslow Townson/AP)
The Bruins clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference by beating the Rangers, who are a possible first-round opponent.
Which means another possible showdown with Sean Avery, who sparked his latest round of controversy by tapping Tim Thomas on the head during a TV timeout. Thomas responded by chasing down Avery and delivering a shot to his back, then getting his blocker in the face of Fredrik Sjostrom, who had come to the defense of his teammate.
“It’s an unwritten rule that nothing happens during the TV timeout,” said Thomas, who was stretching when Avery pulled his hit-and-run stunt. “I’m stretching there, Avery comes by, and I get hit in the head with a stick. You look up and see who it is. You’ve got to be kidding me. It was just reflex. The battling during the game? I have no problem with that. I actually like the way he plays around the net. He’s tenacious. He gets in right around the crease but he’s not doing anything illegal. I have no problem with that. But there are lines that you can’t cross. He seems to have a hard time figuring out where those lines are.”
In the other room, Henrik Lundqvist said that Avery’s whack on Thomas was probably an accident.
* Blake Wheeler scored the only goal of the game. Wheeler was busting on himself for having a weak slap shot. Claude Julien said maybe the goal will encourage Wheeler to shoot more from the point.
* Julien didn’t offer any insight on Andrew Ference’s injury. Julien said it will be Monday until the Bruins declare whether Ference is day-to-day or worse.
* The Bruins are off tomorrow. They will practice on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at Ristuccia Arena.
STICK SALUTE: Stephane Yelle. Made a big-time block on Derek Morris during a late-game penalty kill. Yelle said he read Morris’s windup and hit the deck to block the shot.
SIN BIN: Avery. Duh.
All done at the Garden. Bruins, 1-0. Bruins clinch the East’s top seed.
15:05 (3). Dennis Wideman is back on the ice.
14:36 (3). Penalties to Sean Avery (unsportsmanlike conduct) and Tim Thomas (roughing).
14:36 (3). Sean Avery skates past Tim Thomas and taps him on the head with his stick. Thomas chases after Avery and delivers a shot, then gets in a pop or two on Fredrik Sjostrom. There will be some penalties coming.
13:46 (3). Dennis Wideman has gone to the room. Steve Montador is back on defense. The Bruins are now without three of their top four defensemen.
11:26 (3). Dennis Wideman has trouble getting back to the bench. He’s getting looked at by physical therapist Scott Waugh.
9:53 (3). Lauri Korpikoski slips behind Zdeno Chara and rings a shot off the right post.
6:50 (3). After stripping Sean Avery and getting a partial breakaway, Milan Lucic is stuffed by Henrik Lundqvist. At the other end, Tim Thomas stones Nikolai Zherdev.
0:51 (3). Dennis Wideman is dropped by a Derek Morris slapper. Wideman is on the bench after getting up slowly.
0:00 (3). Andrew Ference was hurt in the second period and will not return.
20:00 (2). After 40 minutes, Bruins with a 1-0 lead.
* Zdeno Chara touched off some fireworks by clobbering Sean Avery against the wall. Avery went down, prompting Paul Mara to go after Chara. While Mara and Chara were jostling, Tim Thomas and Henrik Lundqvist had words at center ice. Lundqvist appeared to be headed to the room, while Thomas was intent on intercepting the goalie in case he joined the fray. Chara and Mara go off for roughing.
18:46 (2). Wade Redden comes off the bench and jumps into the play to be stopped by Tim Thomas.
10:15 (2). Tim Thomas scrambles to his left to stop Ryan Callahan.
0:22 (2). Sharp save by Henrik Lundqvist on Blake Wheeler’s tip job.
20:00 (1). After 20 minutes, Bruins with a 1-0 lead.
* P.J. Axelsson, who assisted on Blake Wheeler’s goal, nearly set up Michael Ryder for another one late in the first. Axelsson threaded the needle to an in-stride Ryder, whose wrist shot went wide of the net.
* The usual Sean Avery fare in the first period: chatter, some hard hits, and a few jabs. But nothing like the out-of-control foolishness he displayed during his last visit with Dallas. When he’s settled down, Avery is a skilled player.
15:15 (1). Tim Thomas stuffs Markus Naslund’s close-range shot.
13:44 (1). Old friend Paul Mara dives to bust up a Blake Wheeler goalmouth feed to Marc Savard.
9:04 (1). Bruins, 1-0. Blake Wheeler puts a fluttering slap shot from the point past Henrik Lundqvist. P.J. Axelsson and Dennis Wideman with the assists.
Some hardware for the Bruins before the game to Milan Lucic (exceptional hustle and determination); Marc Savard (outstanding performance during home games); Aaron Ward (charitable contributions); and Savard, Zdeno Chara, and Tim Thomas (three stars).