KANATA, Ont. -- Having won the three previous NHL All-Star Games, Tim Thomas knows the tricks that give you a chance to win a game that is not kind to goalies.
"In these types of games really the only chance you have to have your name on the record as the winning goalie is if you play in the third period," Thomas said. "You can get a shutout in the first period and still not end up with the win, probably won't end up with the win. That's why I wanted to play the third period."
He got his wish, and he got his win.
A year ago, Thomas became the only goalie in NHL history to win three straight All-Star Games. On Sunday, he improved on his record by winning his fourth in a row, backstopping Team Chara to a 12-9 victory by stopping 15 of 18 shots in the third period.
The game was tied at 6-6 entering the third period and Thomas was beaten three times by Team Alfredsson, but his guys got him six goals -- including Zdeno Chara's winner with 7:40 remaining.
"The one thing, first and foremost, the other goaltenders were sport enough to let him finish," Bruins coach Claude Julien said, referencing Jimmy Howard and Carey Price, the team's other goalies. "He obviously had the most (fan) votes as a goaltender and a lot of times those goaltenders end up starting, but we asked the goaltenders if they were OK with it and they said, 'Absolutely.'
"The other two played rock, paper, scissors to decide who would start. When it was tied (in the third period), the stage was set for Tim to get an opportunity to win his fourth in a row."
While winning four All-Star Games will likely go in as a footnote to Thomas' career accomplishments, it means a great deal to him.
"It's something that they never take away from you," Thomas said. "I am excited and I feel blessed that this happened at such a late stage of my career, especially.
"I was shooting for four," he added. "I don't really think I realized how much I wanted the fourth until we got into it. My team came up big, scored a couple of goals early for me, and I was like, 'Hey, let's do this.' "
In the process, Thomas stopped fan favorite Daniel Alfredsson from completing his hat trick and perhaps winning the MVP. He stopped all four of Alfredsson's shots in the third period.
"Yeah, that's Timmy. He's very competitive," said Chara, who admitted he was pulling for Alfredsson to get the hat trick. "You can't blame him. That's the only way he can play, otherwise he's not really effective. He's always competitive. That's him."
Thomas' competitiveness makes playing in the third period of an All-Star Game ideal for him. That's when the game usually picks up in intensity, which is only normal for the 37-year-old goalie.
"I'm assuming that Alfie really wanted to get the win on home ice, but it's always more fun to win, whether you're at an All-Star Game or playing some little competition in practice," Thomas said. "The pace picks up in the third period, which actually makes it a little bit easier for a goalie in a certain way because there is more flow."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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