The 10 best games of 2011 (as viewed by me) – #2 – Eastern Conference Finals Game 7: Boston Bruins vrs. Tampa Bay Lightning, May 27, 2011

The Bruins defense gave Thomas a light workload, he faced only 24 shots all night

The Bruins were one win away from making the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990.  All they had to do was beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Dwayne Roloson, the Lightning goalie, was not going to give in so easily but luckily for the B’s they had Tim Thomas on the other side.  Thomas may not even been as good as Roloson in Game 7 but he was just good enough to send the B’s to their first Stanley Cup finals in 21 years in a grueling game 7 to decide the Eastern Conference champion.

The 1st period was played flawlessly by both teams defensively.  The Lightning only got 8 shots on goal, all saved by Thomas.  The Bruins were the aggressors in the 1st period, taking 14 shots at Roloson.  He turned them all back.  The Bruins continued the onslaught in the 2nd period and again Roloson took everything that they spit at him and turned it away.  14 more shots by the Bruins and 14 more saves by Roloson.  Thomas stood his own ground, turning back all 9 shots that he had seen in the period.  It was 0-0 after two periods.  Both teams had killed power plays, thwarted break-aways and banged each other into the boards and there was only 20 minutes left in the hockey game.  Neither team had put the puck in the net.  It seemed that whoever could do so first may be the one to raise the Eastern Conference Championship Trophy.  It wouldn’t be easy.  Dwayne Roloson had already stopped all 28 shots that he had faced and Thomas had turned back all 17 that he had.

Horton slipped the only goal of the game past Roloson with 7:33 to go in the 3rd

10 minutes quickly went by in the 3rd period.  Tim Thomas stopped 4 shots from the Lightning while Roloson was still flawless, stopping stopping 5 of his own.  There was only 10 minutes left and it didn’t seem like this stalemate was going to end anytime soon.  Roloson stopped another shot off of the stick of David Krejci just over the 10:00 mark, giving him 34 saves for the night.  Thomas turned back a Vincent Lecavalier shot about 11 minutes in, giving him 22 saves of his own.  With only 7 1/2 minutes to go a David Krejci pass was deflected right into the stick of Nathan Horton who had only Roloson between him and the net.  He stuck his shot past Roloson and into the back of the net for the first goal of the night.  Roloson’s perfect night was ruined after he turned back the first 34 shots that he had faced.  #35 was the lucky one for Horton, who already had a series winning shot against the Canadiens.  The Lightning couldn’t muster up any offense in the last 7 minutes as the Bruins defense smothered them.  They only managed two more shots on goal, both saved by Thomas.  Thomas stopped all 24 shots that he faced on the night.  Roloson finished with 37 saves overall but it was the 38th that would send him home for the summer.

Horton celebrates the eventual game winner

The Tampa Bay Lightning lost the perfect hockey game.  Someone had to lose.  The Bruins won and continued on their storybook ride to the Cup, which culminated a few weeks later when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in 7 games to win the Stanley Cup.  This was one of those perfect games where fans of both teams were on the edge of their seats throughout and even those who weren’t fans couldn’t help but be intrigued to the end.  Players earn chapionships and the Bruins more than earned their championship with their effort this night against the Lightning.

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About evonsports
30 year old sports enthusiast and aspiring writer from Boston.

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