All summer long, NHL Network will be replaying the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs -- from every jaw-dropping goal to every highlight-reel save to every crushing defeat.
Each game of the postseason -- spanning the more than two-month period from the opening round to Boston's Game 7 clincher of the Stanley Cup Final -- will be shown on the Network throughout the offseason.
Fans can tune in at 8 p.m. ET nightly for a different game -- and different chance to re-live history. A complete program schedule can be found on NHLNetwork.com.
For a team to win the Stanley Cup, its goaltender has to steal a game or two along the way. In the pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston, Tim Thomas was up to the task.
Shortly after the opening faceoff, it didn’t appear as if Thomas was headed for a great night. Bruins killer Simon Gagne scored just 1:09 into the contest to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game. Remarkably, the tally gave Gagne 7 goals in his last nine postseason games against the B’s. Tampa Bay continued to outplay Boston for the rest of the period, outshooting the Bruins 14-4 in the frame, but Thomas settled in and kept the score 1-0 going into the first intermission.
Meanwhile, Thomas’ Tampa Bay counterpart, Mike Smith, didn’t even know he would be starting in goal until after the morning skate. Smith had already come off the bench to replace Dwayne Roloson twice in the series, earning his first career playoff victory in Game 4 by stopping all 21 shots he faced and allowing the Bolts to rally from a 3-0 deficit. Smith could not maintain perfection as a starter in Game 5 though, surrendering goals by Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand in the second period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead after two.
Midway through the third, it seemed as if Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie had the equalizer, but Thomas made arguably his best save of the playoffs -- and his career -- to keep Boston ahead by a goal. After Eric Brewer’s blue-line blast missed wide, the puck caromed off the end-boards and directly to Downie at the side of an open net. Thomas, who was at the top of the crease to play Brewer’s original shot, was somehow able to reach back and use the very heel of his stick to deny Downie’s attempt by batting the puck out of mid-air. Even the Bolts’ head coach had to admit that Thomas’ play was above and beyond.
"Against this goaltender, you need more; you need more," Guy Boucher said after the game. "You need miracles. (Thomas) is making miracles. We have to come up with miracles."
That "miraculous" save on Downie was one of 33 on the night for Thomas, who indeed stole Game 5 for the Bruins, as they went on to win 3-1 after Rich Peverley buried an empty-netter with 13 seconds left. The victory gave the B’s a 3-2 series lead and put them one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final in 21 years.