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Brilliant goaltending sinks Lightning

Published Dec. 1, 2006

The frustration must have been building inside Marty St. Louis because it came out in a torrent.

"I can't believe he saved that shot," the Lightning wing said.

"And the way it came straight out instead of going the other way into the net," teammate Eric Perrin said from the next locker.

"I shot it quick," St. Louis said, "and I shot it hard."

But Bruins goalie Tim Thomas made an incredible save that preserved a third-period tie and highlighted Boston's 4-3 shootout win Thursday at TD Banknorth Garden.

Thomas, with 31 saves, won his third straight and eighth in a 10-game stretch.

"He played great," Perrin said. "We were all over him for a while, and he kept them in the game. He's a guy who never gives up on the puck."

Perrin and St. Louis should know. The three played together at the University of Vermont, and Thomas told a story of a shootout contest between his friends that went eight rounds - though he said he wasn't sure who won.

Thomas stopped Perrin and St. Louis in Thursday's seven-round shootout. The only goal was scored by Boston rookie Phil Kessel. It all was nice payback for Thomas as Perrin and St. Louis scored during the game.

"He was outstanding," Lightning coach John Tortorella said of Thomas.

But so was Denis. After five straight losses, he had to be. And despite losing again, though for the second time in overtime or a shootout, his 22-save effort was a nice confidence boost.

There were other good things for the Lightning (13-11-2), which got a point for the regulation tie.

Perrin's sixth goal showed off an underrated slap shot. He assisted as St. Louis extended his team record with his 19th shorthanded goal, and Vinny Lecavalier scored his 12th to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 lead midway through the third period.

But Boston is a black hole for the Lightning, which has two wins there in 27 games.

Glen Murray scored with 9:05 left to tie the score, and Tampa Bay was 0-for-6 on the power play and gave up a shorthanded goal to the team with the NHL's worst home penalty kill.

It might have been a moot point had St. Louis scored 3:13 into the third period with the score tied at 2. But Thomas dove toward the goal line and used his stick to stop the shot. He dove on the puck, which squirted into the defensive zone.

"I thought it would have hit him and gone in," St. Louis said.

"I knew I saved it before the line, but I didn't know if it hit off me and went after that," Thomas said. "That's why I wasn't moving. I didn't want to push the puck in the net." And give his old friend the satisfaction.