– Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas
waited patiently for the flurry of shots he expected after the Washington Capital put just seven on net in the first two periods of last night’s game.
The Capitals outshot the Bruins 9-3 in the third period, but Thomas’ air-tight goaltending never cracked as the scoreless stalemate headed for overtime.
“More often than not, when your team outshoots the other team heavily for a couple of periods, whether you score or not, there’s usually a time period in the game where the tables turn,” Thomas said. “And I knew they were going to get their bursts sooner or later. So, I was mentally prepared for that going into the third period.”
In the extra frame, Thomas only had to make one save before Chris Kelly
scored the game-winning goal 1:18 in, giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Early in the overtime period, Washington forward Marcus Johannson broke into the zone and challenged Thomas, who made the save – which initiated the game-winning play.
Defenseman Joe Corvo
picked up the rebound and carried the puck up the ice, which was passed through the sticks of Brian Rolston
and Benoit Pouliot
to set up Kelly’s blast from the point.
“[Johannson] got limited to shooting on the blocker side, so I pretty much knew it was going to the blocker side,” Thomas said. “I was obviously very happy to make the save.
“And actually, it flashed into my mind right away, I was like, man, last year, a couple different times in overtime, when I made a big save we went right down and scored. And then I saw Chris [Kelly] take the long pass, and saw he had a step on the defenseman, and I had a good feeling. I had a good feeling that it was going to go in, and I had a good feeling about the guy who had the puck.
“He’d been winging a few past me in practice the last couple of days, and I could tell, his shot’s going right now,” Thomas added, sitting beside Kely in the postgame press conference. “He’s humble. He doesn’t think so. But I’ve seen it.”
At that moment, Kelly glanced at Thomas and said, “He’s being nice.”
But while Thomas was busy complimenting Kelly’s game-winning effort, his teammates had plenty of praise for their veteran goalie.
“You know, Tim is what he is,” Bruins forward Brian Rolston
said. “There’s a reason he won the Conn Smythe last year and he was great for us [last night], and obviously you need good goaltending in the playoffs and he was phenomenal.”
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien echoed Rolston’s sentiment, not only praising Thomas’ saves but his approach to the game.
“I thought Tim did a great job of staying focused and staying sharp,” Julien said. “And when he had to make those big saves, he made them, and that was nice to see, and that’s Tim.
“With the experience he’s had over the course of his career now, those things are starting to really show, and I thought he did a great job. It wasn’t an easy task for him tonight, and the shutout, although he had 17 shots, was well deserved because he stayed focused through the whole game.”