BOSTON — If it was up to Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final would be Sunday, or at the very worst Monday.
That’s how frustrated he was after Boston’s 5-2 Game 1 loss to Tampa Bay tonight at the TD Garden.
“Yeah, I wish we didn’t have the two-day break. I mean, we won eight out of our last nine games,” he said after he allowed four goals on 33 shots. “And the last one we lost was Game 6 [to Montreal], and we had to get ready for Game 7, we had to travel from Montreal to here and get ready for Game 7 right away. So you didn’t have much time to think about the loss. You had to put it behind you right away and get ready for Game 7. I think that’s probably the best thing to do in this case still, but I wish we played quicker than another two days off.”
Unfortunately for Thomas, there is a two-day break before Tuesday’s Game 2. And the seven-day break the Bruins had before the start of this series didn’t aid their cause in getting out of the gates fast against the Lightning.
The Bruins found themselves down, 3-0, at the 12:40 mark of the first period after Tampa Bay scored three goals in a 1:25 span. The middle goal was an end-to-end rush by Brett Clark, who capped his weave up the ice with a backhander through Thomas’ right arm pit. It wasn’t exactly the type of goal you expect the presumed Vezina Trophy winner to allow.
“Backhanders are always a little bit harder to tell where they’re going to go. I was looking for who he was going to pass it to, then I was trying to figure out who he was,” said Thomas. “Because, not purposely, but [I know] other people’s tendencies. And then he goes to the backhand and it’s hard to tell where backhands are going to go. I was just trying to put my chest in the center of the net, and it was just a seeing-eye puck.”
Thomas had his share of show-stopping saves on the night, including a pair of gloves saves on Vinny Lecavalier and Steve Downie that kept the Bruins in the game most of the night. But Dwayne Roloson, who entered the night as the only goaltender with a better goals-against average and save percentage than Thomas so far in the playoffs, won round one of this duel with a 31-save performance.