Thomas responds with huge save

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Thomas responds with huge save

WASHINGTON It wasnt quite the Tim Thomas save on Steve Downie from last years conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, or even the post-to-post majesty that was his stop against Brian Gionta during last years Game 7 thriller against the Montreal Canadiens.

But Thomas rose to the occasion in Game 6 against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in DC after he was visibly disappointed in faltering during the third period of a Game 5 loss at home. The Bs goaltender had let in a couple of soft-toss goals in that game, and that hardened into steely determination that he wouldnt go out of this years playoffs like that.

Instead he authored another trademark Thomas save that helped backbone Bostons 4-3 overtime win: this time it was Nicklas Backstrom feeding across the ice to Marcus Johansson right by the doorstep of the goal. Thomas needed to author one more Superman leaping save and he just got a piece of the shot with his stick that like it was going to be tucked right inside the left post.

It was one of 36 saves for Thomas in a game where the Capitals needed bounces, deflections or an Alex Ovechkin bullet right off a face-off if they hoped to beat him.

"I thought Thomas played a huge game," said Claud Julien. "I know he was upset yesterday after the game and just by his reaction I had no doubt in my mind he was going to come up big today. Thats the character that this individual has. When hes not happy with himself you can assure he is going to bounce back. He was up early this morning having breakfast and you could see he was prepared for this game. He did a great job for us tonight."

For a guy that teammates say was blaming himself and upset after the two goals in the third period of Game 5, the Thomas defiance in Game 6 was a reminder of how much resiliency the 37-year-old goaltender has in his possession.

Its part of what has made him great when everybody doubted him earlier in his pro career, and its what has allowed him to reach the Conn Smythe, Vezina Trophy and Stanley Cup heights that hes attained in recent years.

I pride myself on doing the best I can every night and doing the best I can to help the team, said Thomas. Our backs are against the wall and hopefully I helped them out, but they also stepped up and helped themselves out. The whole team did it.

The whole team did it, but they cant win unless Thomas is playing like the elite goaltender that he is on most nights. Game 6 was one of those nights for the Bs goaltender, and the decisive Game 7 will have to be as well if the Bruins hope to advance.

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players' union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK - There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

Blakely: Jae Crowder is more than 'just another guy' on Celtics

As the NBA trade deadline gets closer and closer, A. Sherrod Blakely helps shed some light as to why the Boston Celtics may be unwilling to part ways with Jae Crowder