For Thomas, last shot was indescribably painful

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By Cam Tucker
Globe Correspondent / June 2, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It looked as if Tim Thomas would extend his playoff shutout streak to an impressive six periods, when the unthinkable happened.

The Canucks, after throwing 33 shots at the Bruins’ flamboyantly solid goalie in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, scored on their 34th shot — by Raffi Torres, with 18.5 seconds left.

The shutout streak was over.

Asked to describe how he was beaten on the winner, Thomas said, “I’m not a play-by-play announcer. There was a turnover, they were able to keep it in at the blue line and the guy with the puck was able to get in a spot where I was starting to cut down the angle because he was in a dangerous enough spot that I had to take that shot.

“That’s when he was able to make that pass to the guy cutting to the net.

“That’s as good as my play-by-play is.’’

Believe it or not, Thomas was actually able to crack a smile about the inquiry.

Heading into the series, the consensus — at least from the local media and radio shows — was that the Canucks held the edge in goal with Roberto Luongo.

Technically, that was the case in Game 1, as evidenced by the score, but Thomas was sensational early and often.

He received his first stern test less than 30 seconds into the game, stopping one half of the Sedin wonder twins, Henrik, with the right pad on a nifty give-and-go from brother Daniel.

Thomas then kicked out a Ryan Kesler shot less than a minute later, as the Canucks and 18,000-plus raucous fans had the Bruins pinned into a corner early.

“Timmy made the big saves when he had to,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “It’s been pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen because throughout the playoffs there’s been different situations.

“Some games you get those scoreless games for most of it and other games everything seems to go in.’’

Added towering defenseman Zdeno Chara, “It was a very strong performance, he made some unbelievable saves for us. He basically played a hell of a game.’’

Thomas robbed Canucks third-line grinder Jannik Hansen on a breakaway early in the third period, and came way out to challenge Maxim Lapierre before denying him with a glove save.

It was an amazing show.

Thomas and Luongo put on one of those classic goalie duels — the kind that seven or eight years ago might turn fans away toward more seasonal activities.

Such was not the case last night, as the two, with very different yet equally effective styles, went save for save.

“Obviously two totally different styles of goaltending,’’ said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault.

There’s also the matter of crease crashing, which the Canucks did with increasing regularity. In one instance, it paid off for Thomas and the Bruins.

Canucks forward Alex Burrows was sent to the penalty box for two minutes after he upended Thomas, who in fairness, was outside the blue paint.

Either way, it disrupted his ability to stop the puck, and Burrows was assessed a penalty for tripping.

“That’s happened every series, and most of the regular-season games, too,’’ said Thomas. “That was par for the course.’’

But Vigneault wasn’t too clear on what his team was and wasn’t allowed to do within Thomas’s crease.

“Our goaltender always plays in the blue and stays in his ice,’’ he said. “Their goaltender is always out and comes into other people’s ice.

“So we’re going to need a little bit of clarification there on . . . initiating contact with our team. But I’m sure we’ll be able to figure that out.’’

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