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Fans taunt Bruins goalie Tim Thomas for White House snub

Fans held up images of President Obama to taunt Bruins goalie Tim Thomas at the NHL playoff game in Washington. The Bruins beat the Capitals 4-3.

By Howard FendrichAssociated Press / April 17, 2012

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas skates past fans holding signs of Barack Obama before Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series between the Bruins and the Washington Capitals in Washington.

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Washington

With Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas back in the nation's capital, Washington Capitals fans weren't going to let him forget his skipped trip to the White House.

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At Game 3 of the Bruins-Capitals playoff series Monday night, several spectators showed up with pictures of President Barack Obama and signs taunting Thomas. In January, he didn't show up when the rest of the Bruins were invited to the Stanley Cup champions' traditional visit to the president's office.

Thomas, born in Michigan, said at the time he believes the federal government "has grown out of control."

Most of the Obama signs were displayed by fans sitting near the glass behind the net Thomas defended in the first and third periods of Monday's game.

RELATED: Tim Thomas and six other athletes who snubbed the White House

What happened in Monday night's game? Thomas made 29 saves and ignored the taunting from fans. 

Suddenly, Bruins-Capitals turned into Flyers-Penguins, replete with scraps and all sorts of scrums — not to mention quite a bit of offense thrown in.

From the high stick that knocked off Boston captain Zdeno Chara's helmet, to the cross-check to Rich Peverley's face at game's end that earned a match penalty for Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, and all sorts of mayhem in between, Game 3 "was kind of like a rugby game," Capitals coach Dale Hunter said.

"The only thing that's disappointing for me personally is that this is the third time in three games our player has been cross-checked in the face. ... You hope that those things don't get out of hand," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Somebody else, not us, has to deal with that."

Thanks to Chara, the Bruins came out on top.

Chara scored the tiebreaking goal during 4-on-4 play with less than 2 minutes left, and the reigning Stanley Cup champion Bruins finally solved playoff rookie goalie Braden Holtby, beating the Capitals 4-3 Monday night to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round Eastern Conference series.

"It's getting more emotional," Chara said. "Players are more involved. It's starting to be more and more physical."

The 6-foot-9 owner of a 100-plus mph slap shot was involved in pretty much every key play: He was in the penalty box when Alexander Semin scored the game's first goal for Washington; he had two assists; and his final shot from the right circle appeared to get deflected by Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik — "Lucky goal," Hunter said — on its way past Holtby.

"It was nice to see him get that. He got clipped there in the head; a little frustrated from the non-call. He had a penalty early in the game for I thought just holding his own," Julien said. "So he's been good at not getting frustrated at those things. Because he stays with it, he ends up getting rewarded with a big goal."

Game 4 is Thursday in Washington, before the best-of-seven series moves back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday.

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