BOSTON — On a night of remarkable plays at the TD Garden, Tim Thomas’ superhuman save on Brian Gionta in the second overtime might actually get overlooked by historians.
But there’s just no way to undervalue the play he made to get his left pad on the puck and keep tonight’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Montreal going until Nathan Horton could end it, 2-1, with a goal later in that second extra session.
Here’s a look at that amazing play:
“Well when it started I actually came out and was playing it as if [Travis] Moen would have a breakaway, because that’s what it looked like, a break, right off the start,” recalled Thomas after he made 44 saves in the dramatic win. “And then I realized my D was going to get back and make it a 2-on–1, and I was out pretty far so I had to make sure I started to get my backward momentum going so I could play both the shot and the pass. And I was just barely had enough speed to be able to make that push over on the pass. And I was just fortunate enough to get a leg out and cover that part of the net.”
The save did more than just keep the game going. It re-energized everyone. The fans took to their feet to salute Thomas. And the players fed off that. Heck, even without the crowd, Thomas’ teammates were psyched to see their Vezina Trophy nominee save the day.
“We got into it too,” said defenseman Andrew Ference. “It was a great, great save. That’s a hard save to make.”
Added Horton: “That was huge for us. That was a big lift. He’s been doing that all year, and what a special goaltender he is. That definitely gave us a big lift and gave us a little bit more momentum to carry on after that.”
History will determine where Thomas’ save ranks among the Horton game-winning goal, the Zdeno Chara save, the Michael Ryder save and other assorted plays that combined to give the Bruins a victory. As far as emotional lift, however, Thomas’ save was probably No. 1.