-- It's not often that an accomplished goalie can call a five-goal performance the game of his life.
But, Belfast Giants Select goalie Stephen Murphy was willing to make just such a statement Saturday night after his team dropped a 5-1 decision to the Boston Bruins
in the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge exhibition at Odyssey Arena.
"It was a dream outing," Murphy told NHL.com. "It could have been five goals after the first period.
And, Murphy was not embellishing things. Boston dominated the first period and had at least 9 quality chances among the 13 shots it fired off in the first 20 minutes.
But, somehow, Murphy got his team of English League all-stars into the break tied at 0-0.
"Murph played the game of his life," teammate Jade Galbraith told NHL.com. "Especially for a British guy to go into that fire and come out the other side … he kept us in the game."
He did more than that. By stopping the first 22 shots he faced, he allowed the Giants Select team to take an unexpected 1-0 lead when Galbraith snipped a wrister just inside the far post and past the glove of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask
with just 4:24 left in the second period.
"That was a dream come true," Galbraith told NHL.com. "To score against an NHL team like that, it was the highlight of my career."
Suddenly, an already loud Odyssey Arena was rollicking and thoughts were turning to an unprecedented upset.
Unfortunately, the home side had a pretty good idea of what was coming.
"We knew they were going to turn it on," Galbraith said.
And, turn it on the Bruins did, scoring three goals in a 45-second span at the end of the second period to turn the game completely in their favor. Two more goals -- one on a penalty shot -- came in the final 20 minutes.
"We just couldn't capitalize on our chances," Chara told NHL.com. "We were not afraid at all. We believed we would win. It was just a little hard right from the beginning because the goalie was playing so well for them.
"But, it is hard for the goalie to keep it up shot after shot for 60 minutes with the pressure we put on them."
"Murph played the game of his life. Especially for a British guy to go into that fire and come out the other side … he kept us in the game."
-- Belfast Giants teammate Jade Gailbraith
Murphy, the national team Goalie for Great Britian and the top goalie in the English league, admitted that the pressure the Bruins put him under in the final 22 minutes proved to be too much.
"By the end of the game, I could feel the toll of what they were doing on me," Murphy told NHL.com. "It was getting harder and harder."
But, at least he knows that he earned the respect of not only his teammate and the Belfast fans Saturday night, but also the respect of an NHL team.
"He battled and kept his team in there for quite awhile," Boston coach Claude Julien
said. "In the first period, I thought we were moving the puck well and we controlled the play, but we didn't get anything out of it and we came out of that period with no goals.
"He deserved a lot of credit for keeping his team in the game. He was outstanding tonight."