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There’s no doubting Tim Thomas as Bruins win the Stanley Cup

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From Vancouver, Canada — The goaltender no one wanted made more saves than anyone had ever made in the Stanley Cup finals, and the team that twice skated away from a playoff abyss defied the odds again to claim the toughest trophy to win in professional sports.

The Boston Bruins won the Cup on Wednesday by playing a near-perfect game in front of Tim Thomas and stifling the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, at Rogers Arena. In winning their first title since 1972, the Bruins became only the fourth road team to win a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in 16 tries, thanks largely to Thomas.

Photos: Stanley Cup finals Game 7

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The 37-year-old goalie, who had bounced from team to team and continent to continent before sticking with the Bruins, is the oldest winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs. He faced a postseason-record 849 shots in 24 games and made a record 798 saves, including a record 238 in the Cup finals, and the first question he faced was whether he had finally proved his worth.

“For now,” he said, smiling through his bushy, red playoff beard. “I know this game. Winning the Stanley Cup is huge. It’s the biggest accomplishment of my career so far, but everybody knows you have to continuously prove yourself.”

Here’s some proof:

The Canucks led the NHL in scoring and compiled the league’s best record this season but were outscored, 23-8, by Thomas and his scrappy teammates. Boston scored three short-handed goals in the series, one more than Vancouver produced on its power play.

The Bruins had faced elimination in the first round and conference finals but had more depth of character than the Canucks did.

“I think they got really cocky and they thought they were going to roll over us,” said Bruins rookie forward Brad Marchand, who scored twice Wednesday — the second time into an empty net — to finish with 11 postseason goals. “But we took pucks and bodies to the net and we were able to pull it off.”

Patrice Bergeron and Marchand alternated goals Wednesday, with Bergeron finishing off a pass from Marchand for Boston’s first goal, at 14 minutes 37 seconds of the first period, and Marchand wrapping the rebound of a Dennis Seidenberg shot past Roberto Luongo for the second goal, at 12:13 of the second period. Mark Recchi, the NHL’s oldest player at 43, earned the second assist to finish with a team-leading seven points in the finals. Showing still-impeccable timing, he announced his retirement during the on-ice celebration.

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“I talked to Recchi last night and I was feeling nervous and I asked him to give me some advice,” Bergeron said. “He told me to relax and go out there and play the game and to do it for him.”

So he did.

Bergeron’s short-handed goal at 17:35 of the second period left the arena quiet enough to hear the Stanley Cup being polished. By the time Marchand added the final goal, at 17:16, most fans had filed out into the chaotic streets of downtown Vancouver, where police cars were burning and tear gas was being deployed to control the idiots who misuse occasions like this for destructive purposes.

The Bruins lingered on the ice after their win, passing the Cup from hand to hand and embracing friends and family. “It’s surreal. I don’t know if it will ever kick in,” Marchand said. “It was unbelievable. I’m lost for words right now.”

So were the Canucks, but not out of joy.

There’s reason to believe that Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin and other key players were battling injuries, but they wouldn’t use that as an excuse for their offensive failures.

“We’re going to come out stronger from this,” said regular-season scoring champion Daniel Sedin, who combined with twin Henrik — last season’s scoring champion — to score only two goals in the finals. “When you get this close and you come up short it’s devastating.”

Luongo, who bounced between shutting out the Bruins in Games 1 and 5 and being pulled twice at Boston before an undistinguished performance Wednesday, said this was the toughest experience of his professional career.

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“It’s just a grind mentally and physically,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself the last couple of weeks.”

Mostly, he and the Canucks learned what it takes to become Stanley Cup champions.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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