MONTREAL — It was just practice, but Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas warmed up for his Saturday night Gatorade Elimination Shootout match-up with Washington superstar Alexander Ovechkin by denying the sniper during the penalty-shot portion of the Eastern Conference All-Stars’ practice today at Bell Centre.

After he failed to score,  Ovechkin crashed into the end wall and acted like he was playing dead. Thomas asked him if he was OK, and according to the goaltender Ovechkin replied: “Russian machine never break.”

The quick chat with Ovechkin wasn’t the only memorable exchange of words for Thomas. Prior to  the practice, he got to meet Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Johnny Bower. Bower’s career story (he didn’t reach the NHL until his 31 years old) had a profound effect on Thomas a few years ago.

“I told him that I drew inspiration from his story when I was having a hard time getting a chance. I was getting older and older and hadn’t really gotten my chance,” Thomas said.

Bower told that he’s watched Thomas play a couple times and thought he was  “spectacular.” He said he wished Thomas good luck and was impressed by what the Bruins puck-stopper has accomplished this year. As for advice for Thomas, Bower declined to lend much guidance.

“I don’t want to say, ‘hey you should stand up more,'” Bower said with a chuckle. “If he’s playing against Toronto, I’ll say ‘you’ve got to fall down more.'”