BOSTON –Tim Thomas might want to play the lottery when he wakes up Saturday morning.
Boston's goaltender is on quite the roll. Not only did he pitch a 24-save shutout in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals as Boston beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 on Friday night, a victory that sends the franchise to its first Stanley Cup Final in 21 years -- it seems he also called the game-winning goal even before it happened – sort of.
Before the game started, he approached Nathan Horton for a pep talk.
"I said something about 'Do it again tonight, I know you're going to,' and then I said 'Let's do it together,'" Thomas said. "Sure enough, look who came up big. He's a big-money player, there's no doubt about it; a big-time player."
Horton did score a big goal – the only goal of the game, in fact – with 7:33 left in the regulation to provide the margin of victory. He became the first player in Stanley Cup history to score the game-winning goal in two Game 7s in the same postseason.
But Thomas' soothsaying did not stop there. It seems even earlier in the day, during his afternoon nap, he had a dream that center David Krejci would be a key player as well.
Krejci, of course, made the picture-perfect pass to Horton that the big winger redirected past Dwayne Roloson, who was brilliant all night and lost for the first time in eight elimination games.
"I actually had a dream that Krejci would be involved in two goals in the third period," Thomas said. "I already talked to him and told him that he disappointed me; he only got one.
Krejci, though, was OK with disappointing the man who kept Tampa Bay off the board and allowed his line's goal to stand as the game-winner.
"It's nice that he's got these dreams. I hope he keeps dreaming like that," Krejci told NHL.com.
Perhaps Krejci will now ask Thomas, the seer, for the winning numbers to the next Powerball drawing?
"It's not about money; all I want is the Cup," Krejci replied. "So, hopefully, he is going to dream about me more often, in a good way and I'll keep putting the puck in the net and we are going to get what we all worked for."
It will be a lot easier with Horton clicking. The first-line forward has found a way to deliver in the most clutch of moments. The off-season import from Florida has eight goals in his first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and all have come in wins by the Bruins. Friday's goal was the third game-winner of the postseason.
"He certainly has played like a big-game player, obviously," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Overtime goals, game-winning goals; I think for a guy who hasn't played in the playoffs for many years, he's certainly kept a lot of energy inside of him and a lot of, obviously excitement to go out there and play the way he did."
What made Horton's performance even more amazing is that there was some concern he wouldn't be around in the third period. Horton was shaken up pretty good after a first-period collision with Blair Jones and missed almost half the period. But when the second period started, Horton's repairs were finished and he took a regular shift for the rest of the game.
"Just a little bump, I mean nothing big," Horton said. "I came back and I felt pretty good. So we got a couple days off here and we'll get back at it then."
It was likely more than just a little bump -- and don't think his teammates didn't notice that sacrifice.
"He's a great guy," Krejci said. "He wants to be here and win really bad. He just made some adjustments and came back and scored the game-winner. He's got some big goals for us -- Game 7 against Montreal and the game-winner here."
It is a role that Horton is starting to embrace and hopes to continue when the Stanley Cup Final starts Wednesday in Vancouver.
"It does feel good," Horton said. "It definitely feels good to get the game-winner, but I mean it feels better to know that we're going to the Stanley Cup (Final). It's all about team here and it's a pretty amazing feeling. In the end, it doesn't really matter who scores the goals but it does matter if you're moving on -- and we are."
Thanks, in huge part, to Horton.