- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- On Saturday, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made another dent in the All-Star record book when he broke his own record of 105.4 mph in the hardest shot contest with a 105.9 mph shot. Then on Sunday, Bruins teammate Tim Thomas established a new record by becoming the first goalie to earn three straight wins in the NHL All-Star Game. Thomas made 11 saves in the third period to help Team Lidstrom beat Team Staal 11-10 at the RBC Center.
Thomas and Team Lidstrom had a two-goal lead in the final minute but Eric Staal scored with 34 ticks left and Thomas had to save the day -- as he has all season for the Bruins -- by making a flurry of saves in the final seconds. When the final horn sounded, Thomas looked to the goalie heavens and raised his arms. Afterward Thomas told the media he was extremely relieved to get out of there with his record-setting win.
"I was happy it was over without getting another shot," Thomas said of the frantic final minute. "I wanted to get that win because it was the third win and then you're up with two goals with a minute left and you're like 'OK' and then Staal takes a shot and it goes off a stick and I go 'Oh no!' So I was very relieved when it was over."
While the All-Star Game is for fun, the competitive Thomas is still proud to be part of All-Star history.
"It meant a lot and it was a chance to be in some sort of record books and I don't think too many people are checking out the All-Star record books but it definitely meant something to me," Thomas said.
Getting the record-setting win meant enough that Thomas began campaigning Friday to teammate and longtime friend Martin St. Louis to get the third-period nod so he would have the best chance at the win. He continued by telling Team Lidstrom head coach Joel Quenneville he would gladly wait until the third to play.
"Basically I volunteered for the third because it gives you the best chance to get that on your record," Thomas said. "I didn't win the game for the team but I was able to be the winning goalie on record. Being in the third period you have the best chance of getting that."
But while he was happy to have gotten the chance to keep the streak alive, Thomas did admit that waiting and watching the barrage of goals in the first two periods made him nervous and anxious about what he might face in the third period.
"I wanted to win for that record but I didn't want to lose the game for the team either," Thomas said. "I saw the way the game started out, the first five minutes four beautiful goals on Marc [-Andre Fleury] and I was like 'Oh no!' So, you know, put yourself in my shoes."
Another nerve-wracking experience, but one that Thomas is used to, was facing Chara and his 105.9 mph shot. Late in the third period, Chara actually had a chance to unload on Thomas for what would've been the go-ahead goal at the time but he opted to pass. But if Chara had let her rip, Thomas was ready.
"If he would've let it go, I would've tried to save it but I'm glad he didn't in hindsight," Thomas said. "But I told him before that sorry Z, you're on the other team and I'm going to win and we won! I didn't have much of a hand in it, my teammates did, but we won."
That is just another example of how much Thomas wants to win, whether it's in practice, a real NHL game or the All-Star Game, and Chara respects that competitiveness. But he wasn't about to take the chance of hurting Thomas, either.
"In a normal situation you would do that, but obviously in an All-Star situation it's for fun," said Chara, who had two assists, of not unloading with a slap shot. "There's an unwritten rule where you usually don't take slappers.
"We had some great chances. Everybody knows Timmy is very competitive. We had some great shots and he made some big saves. He made one on me when he got kind of lucky and it hit off the knob. But that's the way it goes."
When appraised of Chara's compliments and respect, Thomas returned the praise and said that playing against Chara on Sunday made him realize just how lucky he is to play behind him regularly during the season.
"Obviously it's a compliment and I appreciate what having Z in front of you means," Thomas said of his teammate but opponent on Saturday. "You can even see it in this All-Star Game, he's a defensive presence."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.
Tim Thomas entered the record books with his third straight All-Star Game win.