It was a night to remember for Thomas

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It was a night to remember for Thomas

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- "With Tim Thomas, anything is possible."

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was not exaggerating in his postgame remarks. Boston beat Montreal 2-1 in a double overtime grind and the win was largely owed to the Bruins goalie, who stopped 45 shots in 89 minutes of ice time on Saturday night. Montreal netminder Carey Price upped the ante by making 49 saves of his own.

"I've said before that I'm not really playing against Carey Price so to speak," Thomas said. "Tonight, I was in a game in a way. Whenever he made saves, I had to make sure that I made the saves because it was such a tight game."

Other than a third-period pair that made the score 1-1, nobody could get to the goalies.

But while Thomas's teammates are impressed, none are surprised.

"We wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for him," said Brad Marchand.

That's just Timmy.

Thomas is a Vezina trophy finalist for the second time in three seasons (he won the award in 2009). He is also one year off of hip surgery. The fact that Thomas did not enter this season as the No. 1 netminder now seems only like a bad dream. How? A 2.00 GAA (NHL best), .938 save percentage (NHL best), nine shutouts (one more than Price in 15 fewer games) and 35 wins do well to cloud a sub-par 2010.

So, excuse Thomas's teammates for their shrugs when asked about yet another brilliant performance.

"It's run of the mill, I guess," Andrew Ference laughed. "I mean, really, what do you say? We still get excited by some of the saves, but he does them every game. It's great. It's very reassuring to know that he's back there, to bail you out of some good plays."

That idea of reassurance and comfort rippled all around the locker room after Game 5.

"When you have a goalie who knows he's great -- and we know he's great -- he's going to go out there and give us a chance," said Ference. "It's a good feeling to have a guy like that."

Don't mistake their trust for complacency; the Black and Gold do not take Tim Thomas for granted.

"It's calming to have him behind us," Dennis Seidenberg said. "Having him in the back, always saving us games left and right, is a privilege. "

A privilege they enjoyed for the better part of Saturday night.

Boston matched their blocked shots with defensive breakdowns. Joe Halpren's goal -- the only one Thomas gave up -- was all but a disaster. Tomas Kaberle kicked things off with a soft attempt to clear the puck in the corner. Instead of sending it along the boards, Kaberle shuttled the puck to Adam McQuaid, who was swarmed with Canadiens and under the gun behind the net. Halpren had broken free of Gregory Campbell and intercepted McQuaid's pass. Thomas was left out to dry; Halpren buried one in the back of Boston's net.

The Bruins' lead was swallowed by a 1-1 tie for the rest of regulation.

"It was a matter of not giving up," Thomas said of the extra sessions. "Just staying with it and waiting for opportunities. Hopefully one of those opportunities goes in."

Montreal had a strong chance in the second overtime.

Less than five minutes in, another Bruins misfire turned into an opportunity on the other end. Johnny Boychuk took a shot on Price that sent the defenseman down to the ice. Price made the save and kicked the rebound out to Brian Gionta, which ignited a breakaway. Boychuk raced after the play but couldn't catch up, leaving Andrew Ference to handle a two-pronged attack by Gionta and Travis Moen.

Gionta passed to Moen; Moen got it back to the Canadiens captain.

"As soon as it left my stick, I thought it was going in," Gionta said.

He was stonewalled. Thomas gathered his speed and pushed post-to-post to rob Gionta of the brilliant bid. The save energized a tense crowd in the TD Garden. It also inspired the Bruins.

"We got into it," Ference said. "It was a great, great save. That's a hard save to make."

Nathan Horton's game-winner came less than four minutes later. How's that for a two-way street? Thomas works for his team, and they want to work for him.

"It made us think, 'Okay, let's win it now,'" Seidenberg said. "'He saved us from the loss and let's just do our best and repay him by winning, by scoring the next goal. Thankfully, it worked."

Maybe that's where Thomas finds his own comfort.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Haggerty's Morning Skate: NHL teams aren't just making trades for themselves ahead of deadline

Haggerty's Morning Skate: NHL teams aren't just making trades for themselves ahead of deadline

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while feeling like Warren Beatty took the sneaky way out by handing that wrong Academy Award card to Faye Dunaway last night. Clearly he knew something was amiss and he let her step into it. Kind of a weasel move if you asked me.

-- An interesting letter from FOH (Friend of Haggs) James Mirtle about the pay wall involving The Athletic sports website in Toronto.

-- Dean Lombardi and the Los Angeles Kings dealing for Ben Bishop is about more than just an insurance policy for Jonathan Quick.

-- FOH Mike Halford has the Minnesota Wild going for it with their trade for Martin Hanzal, but also keeping him from the other teams in the West.

-- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the Penguins are in great shape after winning the Cup last spring, and it’s clear they’re in good hands after Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle opted not to sell the franchise.

-- Kyle Quincey is being held out of the lineup in New Jersey because of pending trades, and the wonder is who else in New Jersey might be getting dealt.

-- Gabriel Landeskog and his Colorado Avalanche teammates know the trade deadline is coming. It would certainly be weird if they didn’t.

-- The San Jose Sharks feel fortunate for the timing of their bye week as it was clear that they needed a break.

-- For something completely different: Gronk was busy doing Gronk things at the Daytona 500 over the weekend.