As John Malkovich said in the great movie Rounders, “Pay him, pay that man his money.” One could argue that he was referring to Boston Bruins goal-tender Tuukka Rask.
Rask has been nothing short of sensational in the Eastern Conference Finals and it was no different Wednesday night as he turned away 53 of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 54 shots on net to lead the B’s to a 2-1 double overtime win in Game 3.
Rask has stopped 108 of 110 shots thrown on him by the high-powered machine known as the Pittsburgh Penguins which is led by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz and James Neal.
Head Coach Claude Julien spoke about Rask’s performance after the B’s thrilling double-OT win to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
“Well, what can you say? He’s like I said-if you keep talking about those first three periods, they were probably the better team,” Julien said. “There’s no doubt we were still in it because of him. He’s extremely calm. I think he used a lot of that energy this morning in practice so it calmed him down for tonight, which was probably a good thing.”
Patrice Bergeron netted the game-winning goal, but Bergeron knows Tuukka’s performance will not be overshadowed.
Rask now has an 11-4 record in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He sports a 1.85 goals against average to go along with a .940 save percentage.
Rask talked after the game on how he stayed mentally sharp while he was physically fatigued.
“You know, I don’t think you feel that physical fatigue-ness at that point,” Rask said. “It’s just trying to keep your head and not thinking that you’re tired. It’s just a nice little challenge-you know if you think you’re tired, you’re tired and if you don’t you don’t.”
Rask knows his team has a commanding 3-0 series lead, but he is staying in the moment as his team has reiterated all season long.
“You can’t fall into that trap when you’re up 3-0,” Rask said. “As I said, every game means more and more than the one before. So, we just have to focus on what we have to do to win the hockey games and not look too far ahead in the future. We just have to play a solid game and see where that takes us.”
Rask was as calm as he could be could in the crease Wednesday night and he has been calm all post season long. His calmness, patience and athleticism have the Black and Gold one win away from a second Stanley Cup birth in two years.
It’s Tuukka Time. End of story.