Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Thomas turns in a beauty for Bruins

Categories: BOS vs. TAM, Boston Bruins, Conference Finals, Tampa Bay Lightning

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Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas acknowledges fans after the Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 in Game 5 in Boston on Monday. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press) Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas acknowledges fans after the Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 in Game 5 in Boston on Monday. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
Halfway through the third period, Tim Thomas made one of the best saves of his career. With the Bruins holding a 2-1 lead, Thomas saw Eric Brewer wind up from the point.

"I saw him getting ready to take the shot, but I couldn't see the puck," Thomas said. "That's probably why he had to shoot wide -- our guy taking away the shooting lanes. I picked it up and it was somewhere about halfway to me. I saw it was going wide."

Brewer's shot sailed wide of the net and glanced off the end boards. The rebound came out to Steve Downie at the left post. Downie was looking at a point-blank chance to tie the game.

But Thomas, who had been battling with Martin St. Louis during Brewer's shot, dove to his right and got the blade of his stick in front of Downie's shot.

"I was out toward the top of the crease, so I didn't have time to get my whole body back," Thomas said. "With the way the new boards are nowadays in all the arenas, you've got to be on your toes with the big bounces. The big bounce came out, and it was just a reaction and a desperation. I'll admit I got a little bit lucky there."

Thomas stopped 33 of 34 shots.

"That was unbelievable," Brad Marchand said of Thomas's save. "I was sitting on the bench and I thought it was for sure going to be a goal. Those are always pretty easy tap-ins. But Timmy came up with an unbelievable save there."

Smith gets the nod

Although Dwayne Roloson went through all the steps of being the starting goalie, Guy Boucher went with Mike Smith. It was Smith's first career postseason start. Smith had relieved Roloson in Games 2 and 4, stopping all 29 total shots he saw.
Boucher informed his goalies of his decision during the pregame meal following the morning skate.

"Sometimes to avoid some of the and make sure the guys sleep well at night, we'd rather tell them after at lunch time.," Boucher said. "We did that and I think it paid off. He played really well. The other thing too, all year we have used everybody. We prided ourselves on giving everybody a good chance. People deserve things, whether they are a fourth line or a third line or seventh or eight deep.

"I am one of those guys. I'll give people a chance. I felt that Smitty had been terrific for us for a long, long time and he deserved to be in the game. At the same time, I felt that giving a little breather to Rollie, a bit like Vancouver did with [Roberto] Luongo. Luongo came back and they have been winning since. It's a decision I don't regret at all. I've done it in the past and it worked. I've had it done against me and it's worked. I think it's the same for Vancouver. It worked. It wasn't something emotional at all. It was it something thought of methodically, and it was unanimous as a staff that we wanted to give a breather to Rollie and give a chance for Smitty to participate in something he has been a part of."

Smith stopped 17 of 19 shots. Smith had no chance of stopping each goal -- a Nathan Horton one-timer and Marchand's backdoor tap-in.

"I'd be lying to say if I wasn't nervous," Smith said. "I was a little bit nervous. It's the buildup more than anything. Once you get playing, you seem to settle down and get in the rhythm of the game."

Lightning strike early, fade late

The Lightning nearly ran away with the game in the first period. They outshot the Bruins 14-4, taking a 1-0 lead into first intermission.

On the first goal, Brett Clark dumped David Krejci, causing a turnover. Andrew Ference lost an edge just as Krejci fell, which led to a two-on-one rush for Steven Stamkos and Simon Gagne. With only Johnny Boychuk back, Stamkos threaded a perfect pass for Gagne, who buried his shot at 1:09 of the first.

"We played extremely well in the first period," Boucher said. "We were really poised with the puck, and that's something we wanted to correct from the previous two games, where we gave away turnovers. I think we didn't really have any turnovers in the first period. We played really good. We probably should have had one or two other goals."

The Bruins, on the other hand, looked legless in the first.

"I think they were prepared," Julien said. "I think they were mentally ready for the game. But sometimes the pressure slows you down a little bit. We kind of loosened up in the second period. We talked about it and we knew we couldn't win the hockey game playing that way. We had to loosen up and our guys did a great job, starting with the penalty kill in the second period, then we took off from there."

Bergenheim banged up

Third-line left wing Sean Bergenheim was limited to 4:19 of ice time because of an undisclosed injury. Bergenheim didn't play in the final 40 minutes. Boucher didn't know whether Bergenheim would be available for Game 6.