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Goalie leads Bruins to Cup title

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Associated Press
June 16, 2011
— While the Boston Bruins beelined across the ice to mob him at the buzzer, Tim Thomas tapped both goalposts, sank to his knees and rubbed the ice in front of his empty goal.

Thomas drew a virtual line in his crease throughout these crazy, contentious Stanley Cup finals, and Boston’s brilliant goalie just wouldn’t allow the Vancouver Canucks to cross it whenever it really mattered.


After 39 years without a championship, the Bruins ripped the Cup—and several thousand hearts—out of a Canadian city that had waited four decades itself for one sip.


Thomas was just too good, and the Bruins are the NHL’s best.


The Cup is headed back to the Hub of Hockey.


Thomas made 37 saves in the second shutout of his landmark finals performance, Patrice Bergeron and rookie Brad Marchand scored two goals apiece, and the Bruins beat the Canucks 4-0 Wednesday night to win their first championship since 1972.


“I think I went even further than I thought,” Thomas said. “I never envisioned three Game 7s in one playoff season and still being able to come out on top.”


The Bruins leaped over the boards and headed straight for Thomas at the final buzzer, mobbing the goalie who carried them through long stretches of this postseason. The Bruins are the first team in NHL history to win a Game 7 three times in the same postseason, with Thomas posting shutouts in the decisive game of the Eastern Conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals.


Captain Zdeno Chara nearly slipped when he skated away from Commissioner Gary Bettman with the Stanley Cup. And the oversized trophy eventually got a lift from Nathan Horton, the injured Boston forward whose Game 3 concussion on a late hit irrevocably swung the series’ momentum to Boston.


Before Game 7, Horton worked to give the Bruins a home-ice advantage, pouring a bottle of Boston water onto the ice in front of the Bruins’ bench 90 minutes before warmups.


“I was just trying to get some Garden ice here and make it our ice,” Horton said.


But it was mostly Thomas, who limited the Canucks to eight goals in seven spectacular games in the finals, blanking Vancouver in two of the last four. Boston dropped the first two games in Vancouver but became just the third team since 1966 to overcome that deficit.


“We got the first goal, and we knew that would be important coming here,” said 43-year-old Mark Recchi, who plans to retire after winning the Stanley Cup with his third franchise. “If they got any chances, Timmy was there, and it was just scary how good he was.”


Bergeron quieted the crowd with the first goal, scoring the eventual game-winner in the first period. He added a short-handed score in the second to keep the Cup away from the Canucks, who have never won it in nearly 41 years of existence.


Star goalie Roberto Luongo again failed to match Thomas’ brilliance, giving up 18 goals in the last five games of the finals.


Thomas thoroughly outplayed and outclassed his Vancouver counterpart while limiting the Canucks to eight goals in seven games. Luongo, Vancouver’s enigmatic goalie, capped a brutally inconsistent series by allowing Bergeron’s crushing short-handed goal to slip underneath him late in the second period.



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