February 11th, 2010 by

A Finnish duel; Rask vs. Niittymäki

Stat Chad Johnson Anton Khudobin
Games Played: 7 7
Wins: 6 5
Losses: 1 2
Goals Against Average: 1.98 2.30
Save Percentage: .928 .920

One goaltender will be playing for Team Finland next week, the other will just be a spectator in the stands. However, both Finland natives will be facing each other tonight at each ends of the rink.

Lightning goalie Antero  Niittymäki, who is projected to be the No. 3 goalie for Finland in the upcoming Winter Olympics, has posted a 7-0-1 record in his last eight contests, including a .965 save-percentage and a 1.09 goals-against average during that span. The 29-year-old Niittymäki has been the starter in 14 of the Lightning’s last 15 games, and will most likely start this one tonight.

Around 180 ft. at the other end of the rink, between the other set of pipes, will be Bruins’ rookie sensation, Tuukka Rask. The 22-year-old Rask will be making his fifth start in net tonight – his longest starting-streak of the season since Nov. 16 – 27, when he started six-straight for the then-injured Tim Thomas. Over his last four consecutive-starts, Rask has posted a 2-0-2 record, with a .956 save-percentage, and a goals-against average under 1.50.

There’s no surprise of just how big this game is for both Boston [61 points] and Tampa Bay [63] in the Eastern Conference standings. With one more game remaining for Boston – at. Florida on Saturday – and two for Tampa Bay – at New York Islanders on Saturday and Rangers on Sunday – each teams’ possible points are equally as important. If their net-minder”s recent hot-streaks are any indication on how tonight’s contest will go, this goaltending duel is sure to be a dandy.

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