Goalie duel ends in Thomas' favor

BOSTON -- P.K. Subban repeatedly shouted "Carey for Vezina!" as he walked by the horde of reporters gathered around the locker of Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price and out the entrance of the visiting locker room at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Down the hall, in the Bruins locker room, praise was being flung around for the play of Boston's own Vezina Trophy finalist. Tim Thomas wasn’t flawless in net in the Bruins' 4-3 overtime Game 7 win, but as usual, he stepped up in the biggest moments of the game, standing on his head for swings of the final two periods as the Bruins held off a Canadiens rally just long enough to prevail in overtime.

Consider the goalie duel a draw. In the postgame handshake, Thomas said he told Price, “Great job, great series, great season.”

“He had a wonderful year,” Thomas said of Price. “He played a ton of games and it didn’t seem to affect him here in this playoff series. There were lots of opportunities for him to crack, and he never cracked."

In nearly 66 minutes of overtime, Thomas stopped 37 shots, including 16 in the third period and overtime. He can be forgiven for the third goal -- a power-play Subban slapper from the left circle that he put top shelf, far corner with just under two minutes remaining -- if only because of the degree of difficulty.

“I was just moving, and he’s got a hard shot,” Thomas said of the Subban goal. “And in general, he likes to let that shot [off] of low blocker and five hole. I’ve seen him beat a lot of people, and he’s tried me there. And so I was trying to get over to the far side, to try to cover those two, thus I was already on my way down and I saw Soupy [Gregory Campbell] laying down, but it was too late for me to realize [Subban] could only go high, I wouldn’t have to go down.

“And then, as it’s going by Soupy, the thought is crossing my mind whether it’s going to hit off his butt and then it’s behind me by that time. It was a hard shot. Weber’s was a perfect shot there, too, in the first goal.”

Either way, in a season that started with a need to silence critics and has only gone up from there, Thomas took another step forward Wednesday night. The victory was Thomas' first Game 7 win in his career after some duds in recent years. But his focus remained the same as always.

“We weren’t thinking about that at all,” Thomas said. “We were just battling, just trying to win.”