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Thomas Held the Fort in the Third

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- It wasn't necessarily the prettiest of his wins during the playoffs, but Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas will thankfully take the "W" with him to Florida as the B's set up shop for Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thomas leaves the ice briefly to get his bloody eye attended to after he was hit against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final playoff series in Boston Tuesday, May 17, 2011. The Bruins won 6-5. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
"Each time you get some odd goals like that, it can put you on your heels," said Thomas. "The human tendency is to tell yourself, 'Oh, it’s not going to be our night.'

"The team didn’t do that, and they fought back."

The Bruins fell behind 2-1 after 20-minutes in a situation which resembled the trouble that the B's ran into during Game 1.

"We had really, a pretty good first period," explained Thomas. "And then we had another...goal there at the end of the first period, which could deflate you.

"But being in the locker room between periods, we were never deflated. We’re determined to stick with it and in the second period there, Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder stepped up and got big goals for us.

"We know we have character," continued Thomas. "We’re battle tested by now.

"But having said that, you have to keep stepping up every time you need to, and we found a way to do that today."

Thomas, in particular, found a way to step up several times during Game 2 and that included diving into the crease minus his mask during one scramble in the third period.

"Dominic Moore was the guy in front of the net," said Thomas of the Tampa opportunity. "I think what made my mask come off was Adam McQuaid was trying to get across the crease and we kind of ran into each other.

"I haven’t seen the replay," added Thomas. "I have been told the puck went off my head but I didn’t even realize it."

In another instance, Thomas stepped between Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone and the net on a breakaway during the second period.

Thomas makes a save on a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone during the second period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference final playoff series, Tuesday, May 17, 2011, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
"He got the pass up the middle. I mean basically I saw a guy coming in on a breakaway with the puck and I was determined at that point to not let them score," he said. "I did have time to realize that it was Malone.

"He wound up for a fake slap shot, but I had to be on my toes because I saw him beat [Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre] Fleury with it.

"But he didn’t take it and when he got in on me I was just trying to stay with him and get any piece of my body I could on the puck."

Much of Thomas' night could be described that way.

"Well I think to me it reminded me a lot of that Montreal game where we had that 3-0 lead and then they got a couple of goals to get them back into the game...and in the third period he just stood on his head and made the big saves at the right time," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien when asked about Thomas' effort in Game 2. "Tim did that again for us tonight.

"He made some big saves at the end and allowed us to win that game."

Which is really all Thomas cares about -- making the next big save.

"Experience helps you to learn that," said Thomas. "Each time a goal goes in, you’ve just got to put it behind you.

"You’ve got to start focusing on the next one. If you start thinking about the goals that just went in, it’s going to lead to other goals, and it’s not going to be helpful.

"With our big second period there, I knew we had a big lead going into the third period, and the plan wasn’t to let them get close at all.."

The plan went awry.

"When it gets 6-4 and 6-5, when you’re a younger goaltender, it might be hard for you to keep your focus," added Thomas. "But I’ve been through enough situations similar to that.

"I was just trying to keep my focus, and when it got 6-5, do everything I possibly could to keep it from becoming 6-6."

The score never reached 6-6 and the B's head south tied 1-1 in their first Eastern Conference Finals since 1992. But don't bother asking Thomas about Game 3.

Not yet.

"I haven’t really looked that far forward," said Thomas. "In the playoffs it doesn’t matter what the final score as long as you’re the one that has the higher number.

"I am not really worried that they scored five goals because we were able to score six and that was a really good thing. We found a way to win and they guys on this team deserve credit for that. They did an excellent job but we still haven’t played as well as we can.

"With Tyler [Seguin] stepping up and playing well and possibly getting Patrice [Bergeron] back, the rest of us can step up our games and then I’ll feel good about it going forward." 
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