January 29, 2012

Ultra-competitive Thomas earns fourth-straight ASG win

By Jesse Connolly

Less than 24 hours after his Bruins teammate, Zdeno Chara, did the unthinkable by obliterating his own record in the Hardest Shot competition, Tim Thomas set his sights on an equally lofty challenge. 

Like the 6-foot-9 defenseman he often finds himself stationed behind, it was mission accomplished for the reigning Vezina Trophy winner at Scotiabank Place.

Thomas wound up as the winning goaltender for the fourth consecutive All-Star Game, as the netminder put on a spectacular performance in the third period to help Team Chara defeat Team Alfredsson 12-9.

“It’s awesome,” said Thomas. “It’s something they can never take away from me. I’m excited and I feel blessed that this happened at such a late stage of my career.”

The 37-year-old veteran came on in the final frame after Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Montreal’s Carey Price manned the nets in the first two stanzas. Thomas astutely noted his spot in the rotation was one that gave him the best shot at earning the victory.

“In these types of games, really the only chance you have to have your name on the record as the winning goalie is to play the third period,” he said. “You could get a shutout in the first period and still not end up with a win.”

Thomas may not have pitched a shutout, but if it weren’t for Marian Gaborik’s hat trick, No. 30 likely would’ve taken home MVP honors. He had the highest save percentage among all six goalies to see action, stopping 18-of-21 shots in 20 minutes of action.

It was evident from the moment his turn in net began that Thomas wasn’t going to take it easy between the pipes.

“Yeah, that’s Timmy. He’s very competitive,” Chara said. “You can’t blame him. That’s the only way he can play. Otherwise, he’s not really effective. He’s just always competitive.”

Thomas said his personal winning streak at the All-Star Game was on his mind, but once Team Chara took a 7-6 late early in the third, he really began to focus on the task at hand.

“Going into it, I was shooting for four,” Thomas said. “I don’t think I realized how much I wanted the fourth until I got into it, but my team came up big and scored a couple goals early for me. I was like, ‘Let’s do this. Might as well.’”

Thomas, Chara and fellow All-Star Tyler Seguin will have Monday afternoon off as they travel back from Ottawa, while the rest of the B’s will take to the ice at TD Garden for a 2 o’clock practice. For all of the entertainment the trio provided over the past four days, it’s certainly a well-deserved reprieve.