BOSTON — For more than two months, Boston Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez didn’t taste victory.
After he made 24 saves in a 3-1 win over Tampa Bay tonight at TD Banknorth Garden, he earned his second straight win in just four nights.
“Well, it certainly feels good,” he said after the victory. “You start to wonder, but again, this just shows the kind of team we have. For them to realize that kind of effort is needed, it’s unbelievable. They played terrific in front of me tonight. Tell you what, the way we killed that 5-on-3, I think that might have been it. They got me over the hump and that post in the third. It felt good to have a post go my way.”
Fernandez’s first win in this streak wasn’t one he’d want to send to the Hall of Fame, as he allowed five goals in a 7-5 win over Toronto. This win was more his style.
“Tonight it actually felt good. I made a couple saves, different type of game,” he explained. “That first period helped me out, even if I only had four shots. I was finally seeing some shots straight on. It wasn’t hits a stick, hits a skate and goes in 10 million directions. It was a little bit more bang on so it was nice to see for a change.”
The hope of Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been to make sure both his goaltenders are ready for the playoffs. And a straight rotation of Fernandez and Tim Thomas worked extremely well when the Bruins were building their lead in the Eastern Conference in December and January. Slowly but surely, Julien is seeing the play of Fernandez get where he wants it to be.
“Well, obviously he was much better than he was in Toronto. Whatever it was, whether he was rusty from not playing for a long time, a little bit of confidence, whatever else, he looked a lot more confident, he looked a lot more poised tonight,” said the coach. “He made a couple good saves at the right time. And if he keeps getting better like that then we’ve got that situation that we had when things were going well. It was a good two-man tandem that gave us that strength in nets.”