OTTAWA, Ontario -- Tim Thomas
knew that there were plenty of factors in his way if he were going to earn a fourth-straight All-Star Game victory - namely the entire roster of Team Alfredsson.
But the Black & Gold's goalie hoped he would take his turn for Team Chara in the final stanza on Sunday.
"In these types of games the only chance you have to have your name on the record as the winning goalie is to play the third period," he said after Team Chara's 12-9 victory. "You can have a shutout in the first period and still not end up a win – probably won’t end up with a win because of the way the rules work.
"That’s why I wanted to play in the third period."
And his coach and fellow goalies helped make that possibility a reality.
"Absolutely, the one thing first and foremost is the other goaltenders were sport enough to let him finish," said Team Chara Head Coach Claude Julien of goalies Jimmy Howard and Carey Price.
"Obviously, has the most votes as a goaltender and [the leading vote getter] usually ends up starting, but we asked the goaltenders if they were okay with that and they said absolutely.
"The other two played rock scissors and paper to decide who was going to start, and once the game was tied the stage was set for Tim to get an opportunity to win his fourth in a row," he said.
Thomas made the most of that opportunity. The 37-year-old netminder faced 21 shots from Team Alfredsson and let in goals by Jarome Milan Michalek, Claude Giroux and Daniel Sedin.
"Well I worked hard in all of them I think," said Thomas when asked about his 18-save period. "Last year in Carolina...I couldn’t get a rhythm in the game so my team really carried me last year and this year they did [too] –- they got me six goals in a period instead of the three they’d been averaging –- but this year I felt good.
"I felt if I worked hard I could save a few people don’t expect me to save."
One of those highlight reel stops included a backhanded swat of the puck off his catching glove, which cleared an errant rebound.
"I can’t remember what the first shot -- the save was that went up in the air -- but I was moving...[and] I saw out of the corner of my eye," said Thomas of a rebound that went off his pads awkwardly, went arching over his crease and seemed to be dropping into prime shooting space. "I knew they were going to bat it.
"I just reached back like playing street hockey and threw my glove back and felt it hit it.
"And I heard the crowd reaction so I knew I got it, but then I was trying to figure out if I was going to hit it off somebody and in," he said.
It didn't go in and Thomas stopped 17 other shots (including a bid by Daniel Alfredsson for a hat trick in his home rink) to earn the historic All-Star win.
"I wasn’t thinking about his hat trick, I just didn’t want the other team to get any closer," said Thomas. "The ways these games go –- boom, boom, boom –- three goals happen in a minute and a half and I didn’t want to let anybody score.
"It wasn’t anything about Alfie."Zdeno Chara
certainly wasn't surprised to see his teammate leave everything on the ice in Ontario.
"He’s very competitive," said Chara of Thomas. "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 just him."
That competitive nature has served Thomas well, particularly over the past season and a half.
"I’m very happy with the end result," said a smiling Thomas, postgame. "Going into it, I was shooting for the fourth – I don’t think I realized how much I wanted the fourth until I got into it.
"My team came up big and scored a couple goals early for me and I was like, ‘Lets do this, lets go.’"