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Bruins year in review: Save of the year 06.21.11 at 2:11 am ET
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Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’€™ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year and fight of the year. Up today is save of the year, and it should be fresh enough in people’s minds to remember.

SAVE OF THE YEAR

Tim Thomas on Steve Downie, Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay

“I was thinking, ‘Thank God he saved it.’ We were up by one goal in Game 5, so that was possibly the turning point in the series. They could have scored, won, gained momentum and had a chance to go back home and win. I was happy, but there’s been a lot of moments like that when there’s just a sigh of relief that ‘there he goes again.’ As amazing as his saves are, I don’t think anybody in here is amazed that he makes them, because he’s so good.”

- Gregory Campbell

A shoo-in for the Vezina, Tim Thomas had enough candidates for this before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. Then he turned in what may be remembered as one of the greatest stick saves of all time when the stakes were just about as high as they could be.

With the series tied at two games apiece and the Bruins holding onto a 2-1 lead in the third period, Eric Brewer took a slapshot from the point that went wide of Thomas’ net. With Thomas at the top of the crease, it would seem that Steve Downie would be a fortunate man to have the puck bounce off the endboards and right to him next to the net. Downie went to put the put in the net to tie the game, but Thomas came to the rescue, knocking the puck down in mid-air with his stick despite hitting the post with his blade. No player had a better view of the play than Gregory Campbell, so his amazement with Thomas’ save should not be taken lightly.

The save yielded an insane reaction from the Garden crowd, and the Lightning would not get another opportunity like that for the rest of the game. Tampa would eventually pull Mike Smith for an extra attacker, and Rich Peverley would put the game away with an empty netter.

This was just one of the many outstanding saves Thomas made in a postseason in which he was the easy Conn Smythe winner. While his regular season was record-setting, his postseason was even better. There may be no better illustration of how Thomas stepped up than that save.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Thomas on Brian Gionta (Game 5 of quarterfinals), Tim Thomas on Francois Beauchemin (Dec. 4), Tuukka Rask on Kyle Brodziak (Jan. 6)

Read More: Brian Gionta, Bruins Year in Review, Steve Downie, Tim Thomas
Johnny Boychuk no longer ‘foggy,’ ready to go for Game 6 05.24.11 at 5:10 pm ET
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TAMPA — On Tuesday Bruins coach Claude Julien used the same word as he did Monday — “fine” — to describe defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who left Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals a little over halfway through the third period after hit from Tampa Bay forward Steve Downie.

“Nothing has changed,” Julien said. “He’s fine.”

Boychuk himself said that he will play in Wednesday’s Game 6 and that despite feeling a bit woozy following the hit that earned Downie a boarding penalty, he knew that he was OK.

“I was a little foggy, but then after I got off the ice, I felt totally fine,” Boychuk said Tuesday. “Even when I was on the ice, they just wanted to make sure I was OK before I even tried to skate. I didn’t really want to fall.”

Boychuk said that the hit caught him by surprise, and though he noted players in his position have “got to be aware of their surroundings,” not knowing Downie was coming didn’t help matters.

“I didn’t see him’€¦ obviously,” Boychuk said. “I didn’t see him coming. You can’t really brace yourself if you can’t see him.”

Downie was not disciplined by the league for the hit, and Boychuk took a respectable approach when asked his feelings on it.

“I saw the hit,” he said. “If it’s suspendable, then the league will do it, but I’m feeling fine and that’s the main thing.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Claude Julien, Johnny Boychuk, Steve Downie
Report: Steve Downie won’t be disciplined for Game 5 hit at 12:10 pm ET
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Lightning forward Steve Downie will not be suspended for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, according to a tweet by TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Halfway through the third period of the Bruins’ 3-1 win in Game 5 Monday, Downie slammed Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the back, receiving  a boarding call for the hit. Boychuk was shaken up and didn’t return to the game, although Bruins coach Claude Julien later acknowledged that the blue-liner was “fine.”

Downie has 40 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games in 2011 and had already received a one-game suspension in these playoffs for leaving his feet on a hit  on in the conference quarterfinals against the Penguins.

Read More: Johnny Boychuk, Steve Downie,
Claude Julien says Johnny Boychuk is ‘fine’ at 3:53 am ET
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The Bruins got a bit of a scare in the third period of their 3-1 vicctory in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals when Lightning forward Steve Downie took a run at B’s defenseman Johnny Boychuk and sent Boychuk down the tunnel and out of the game. Downie went off for boarding, and though Boychuk didn’t take another shift, the encouraging news was that he made his way back to the bench for the end of the contest. Coach Claude Julien said he did not see the hit, but that the defenseman is OK.

“Johnny is fine,” Julien said. “I haven’€™t had an opportunity to look at it. I haven’€™t watched the video yet. I know some people have, but from what I hear it’€™s not a great hit. I’€™ll maybe save my comments more for after I see it.”

Boychuk logged 16:09 of ice time before leaving after the play, which occured at 10:54 of the third.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Johnny Boychuk, Steve Downie,
Bruins cannot bottle Lightning in loss 03.25.10 at 9:34 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins could not bottle up the Lightning at TD Garden en route to a 5-3 loss on Thursday night. Tuukka Rask took the loss by allowing five goals on 18 shots after coming into the game the NHL leader in goals against average at 2.02. Antero Niittmaki shut down a Bruins attack that mustered an astounding 50  shots but only the three goals.

Tampa Bay came out of the gates hot. Just 49-seconds into the game  Steve Downie fed Steve Stamkos coming down the slot right at Rask. Downie put it right on Stamkos’s tape and it was any easy goal. There was a mild controversy if Stamkos was offsides on the rush but no ruling was made. The Lightning would go up two ate in the first period when Dennis Seidenberg botched a pass to Michael Ryder rolling up the right wing that turn Vincent Lecavalier instantly turned for a break the other way. Lecavalier would shoot/pass from the wing to a rushing Martin St. Louis. The puck and St. Louis reached Rask at the same time and the forward won the battle and slipped the puck into the net at 18:05.

Boston would gain one of those goals back with 26.8 seconds left in the first period. David Krejci battled on the half-wall to win the puck and passed the puck in front of Niittymaki onto the stick of Zdeno Chara who deflected it through the crease to cut the Lightning lead in half.

Tampa pushed its advantage back to two in the front half of the second period when Paul Szcezchura spotted the puck on a turnover in the Bruins zone on the right circle and sent a shot on Rask that was stopped but slipped through the crease somehow to make it 3-1 at 6:50.

Johnny Boychuk got the goal back for Boston at 10:42 in the second when he beat Niittymaki through a stretching, far side five hole for his fifth of the season.

Stamkos struck again within a minute of the end of the second period on the power play when he fired a one-time rocket from the top of the left circle that streaked through traffic and passed Rask to make the score 4-2.

Szczechura got his second of the game at 3:00 in the third on the power play when he took a feed from St. Louis in the slot in front of Rask and beat the goalie high glove side to make it a three goal Tampa advantage. Boston closed it to two at 11:50 when Mark Recchi scored his 16th of the season by banging the puck into the net from the within the crease.

Three Stars

Steven Stamkos — An impressive effort by the 20-year-old former No.1 overall pick. He was a constant thorn in the Bruins side en route to a two goal performance that gave him 45 for the season.

Paul Szczechura — The Lightning center scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in his 48th game of the year for Tampa.

David Krejci — The Bruins center looked a lot like his 2008-09 self as he set up the Bruins first two goals and was active with the puck all game long.

Turning Point — Stamkos’ second goal at the end of the second period stopped any chance of a comeback that the Bruins may have had as it increased the Lightning lead back to two goals. The Bruins are 3-22-0 (including Thursday) this season when they trail by two goalsl at any time during a game.

Key Play — The the Bruins biggest breakdown of the game cost them on what turned out to be Szczechura’s first of the game in the second period. The Lightning chased the puck into the Bruins zone and maintained a forecheck that ended up with Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference attempting to clear the puck from behind the goal line that ended up right on the stick of a charging Szchechura. All the center needed to do was wind up and fire. Rask stopped it initially but the shot’s momentum carried it through the crease.

Read More: David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi, Martin St. Louis
Bruins hold off Lighting for third straight 02.11.10 at 10:16 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins scored four first period goals en route to a 5-4 victory over the streaking Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa Bay on Thursday. Michael Ryder had two goals and an assist in the first and Milan Lucic added to tip-in goals to pace the Bruins attack. Tuukka Rask won his third straight game for Boston with 30 saves and now has earned points in five straight. The Lightning came back on Boston with two second period goals and another in two in the third before the Bruins were able to put the game away.

Antero Niittymaki let in the four first period goals on 21 shots before being pulled for Mike Smith to start the second.

Ryder almost had a natural hat trick in the first. He got an assist on Lucic’s first goal with a shot from the point that the big forward deflected on its way passed Niitymaki. Ryder scored twice later in the period with the first coming courtesy of a give-and-go on the rush with Blake Wheeler and then another on the power play off a shot from Marc Savard to make it 4-0.

Lucic was credited for his second of the game in the second period when the Bruins made it 5-0. Lucic tipped a shot off a turn-and-blast from Zdeno Chara in the high slot that found its way through Smith’s pads.

The Lightning came back late in the second on the power play when Martin St. Louis picked up two goals in the final four minutes as the Bruins picked up a couple questionable penalties. Steve Downie scored the third and fourth goals for Tampa Bay in the third period.

Three Stars

Michael Ryder — The Bruins winger had his 15th career three-point game and has eight goals in nine career games against Niittymaki. His two goals give him 15 on the season.

Milan Lucic — The big bodied Bruin got credit for two goals on the night with deflections in front of the Lightning net. Lucic now has five goals on the year.

Martin St. Louis — Tampa Bay’s veteran forward had two second period goals and now has seven in the Lightnings’ last six games.

Turning Point

Boston’s third goal of the game was one of the best of the year for the Bruins. Ryder tipped a backhand tip pass to Wheeler who immediately gave it back to catch Niitymaki completely out of position. Ryder rammed the puck home and followed it with a trip/dive into the net to give the Bruins the 3-0 lead. Boston had taken 2-0 leads in its past four games but this was the first time in a long time that the Bruins were able to take a three-goal advantage in the first period.

Key Play

Lucic scored his second of the game on a tip in the second period to make it 5-0. The goal become important as the Lighting would score four straight through the end of the second period into the third to make it a one-goal game with 8:51 left before the Bruins were able to put it away.

Read More: Martin St. Louis, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic, Steve Downie
Bruins up three after two at 9:22 pm ET
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Most everything is going right for the Bruins.

Boston made it 5-0 at 4:53 in the second when Zdeno Chara whipped a turn-and-blast shot from the high slot that was tipped by Daniel Paille and Milan Lucic on its way passed Mike Smith. Lucic got the credit for the goal, his second of the game and fifth on the year. The two-goal game is the fourth of his career. Smith replaced Antero Niittymaki to start the period after the top line goaltender let in four goals on 17 shots in the first period.

Chara would get a little nasty with Steve Downie later in the period when Downie tried to get in the captain’s face. Downie had been an instigator in the first period when he got a roughing major for trying to pick a fight with Miroslav Satan (the penalty would lead to Boston’s fourth goal). When Downie tried the same thing with Satan’s country mate (both hail from Slovakia) Chara let him know that he will not tolerate people messing with his teammates. Satan did not return to the ice for the second period.

Things started to unravel a little bit late in the period. Martin St. Louis got the Lightning on the board at 16:10 when he beat Tuukka Rask to break up the shutout on the power play. In the last minute of  Bruins took a couple of penalties (Michael Ryder and David Krejci) along with one from the Lightning (Todd Fedoruk) to set up a 4-0n-3 that Tampa took advantage of with another goal from St. Louis at the 19:03 mark.

End of second period. 5-2 Bruins.

Shots through second (total):

Boston — 5 (26)

Tampa Bay — 9 (22)

Read More: Martin St. Louis, Mike Smith, Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning
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