Boston into Cup Finals for first time since 1990May 28, 2011 - 5:35 AM
Horton scored with 7:33 remaining and Thomas made 24 saves for his third career playoff shutout, as the Bruins snuck past the Tampa Bay Lightning, 1-0, in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Bruins, who were playing in the conference finals for the first time since 1992, will face Vancouver in the Cup Finals. The Canucks eliminated San Jose in five games for the West title.
Game 1 is Wednesday in Vancouver.
"We drove the net, we did what we're supposed to do," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We were patient with that puck. It wasn't always about rimming the puck in. Our guys chose at a real good time to make that pass and walk in."
Dwayne Roloson, who came into the contest with a 7-0 record in playoff elimination games, stopped 37-of-38 shots for the Lightning, who haven't won the conference title since 2004, when it went on to defeat Calgary for the Stanley Cup.
The Lightning forced a Game 7 with a 5-4 victory in Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
The Bruins couldn't figure out Roloson for most of the game, but that changed with 7:33 to play. David Krejci carried the puck into the Tampa Bay zone down the left side prior to sliding a nice pass in front. The disc found the stick of Horton, who chipped the puck into an empty net to give Boston a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay failed to get anything going in the final minutes. Even with Roloson pulled with 30 seconds to go, the Lightning couldn't do anything.
"We have to learn from this," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "We have to be proud of our players. They put everything on the ice, but at the same moment I think it's a moment to learn. What the Bruins have done, it gives you hope for the future."
An action-packed first period ended with zeros still on the scoreboard. The best scoring chance came from the Bruins with less than five minutes to go. Milan Lucic skated in on a breakaway, but Roloson made a stick save to keep Boston off the board.
Roloson stopped 15 shots in the frame, while Thomas made nine saves.
The Bruins continued to fire away early in the middle stanza. Zdeno Chara fired a shot on net from the left point and Horton got a piece of the puck in front. Once again, Roloson made a nice save with 18:17 remaining.
Thomas made his mark in the game with a great save on Simon Gagne with 10 1/2 minutes left.
Roloson made multiple amazing saves in the final minutes of the stanza, including back-to-back saves on Mark Recchi with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
Boston outshot Tampa Bay, 14-8, in the second, but the score continued to read 0-0.
"We have a lot of character, we stayed resilient for all the playoffs," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "We believed in ourselves all along. That being said, there's one more round to go - the biggest one coming up. We're going to enjoy this right now, but at the same time we've got to go right back at it for those four wins. It's going to be tough."
Tampa Bay forward Steven Stamkos took a puck off the face early in the second period. He returned to the game with a busted nose under a full cage shield...The Lightning went 4-1 in elimination games during the playoffs...Friday's game marked the first Game 7 in the East finals since Carolina beat the Buffalo Sabres in 2006...There were no penalties in the game...Boston improved to 11-10 all-time in Game 7s, while the Bolts fell to 3-1 in their history in decisive games...The Bruins lost in five games to Mark Messier and the Edmonton Oilers in the 1990 Stanley Cup Finals.
- TAMPA BAY: 0
May 27 10:43 PM
- Boston Goal - Nathan Horton (8), from David Krejci at 12:27.
Lightning 0, Bruins 1 3rd - 7:33May 27 10:28 PM
- TAMPA BAY: 0
End of 2nd
May 27 9:46 PM
- TAMPA BAY: 0
End of 1st
May 27 8:47 PM
- TAMPA BAY: 0
1st Period - 20:00
May 27 8:12 PM
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