All season long, even during the team’s slump, Tuukka Rask has kept his cool between the Bruins’ pipes. That was evident Thursday night in Boston’s much-needed 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night at the TD Garden.
Rask made 30 saves to record his fifth shutout of the season, but even more impressive were his timely stops.
“He’s been solid all year…and he makes everything look so easy,” said Daniel Paille, who scored a goal in Thursday’s win. “You know, I think they could have had a few goals there, and Tuukka was just solid. When he has that mindset – that’s mostly every time when there’s no fatigue in there – he’s one of the best goalies.”
Shortly after Dennis Seidenberg tallied his third of the season, Rask made one of his several clutch stops on Steven Stamkos. After a great feed from Martin St. Louis, Tuukka flashed the glove to rob Stamkos on his one-timer to secure the lead.
Later in the period, with the Bruins ahead 2-0 thanks to Paille’s 10th of the year, Tuukka stood tall on two shots from Alex Killorn to keep the two-goal lead.
Tuukka certainly lucked out in a number instances too, as the Bolts hit the post a couple of times. But he’ll certainly take the end result.
“Well, it’s better than letting in five or six goals, that’s for sure,” said Rask, who posted his second shutout this week, the other coming Sunday against the Florida Panthers.
“Every game is different. Sometimes you just get the bounces. Today they had a post or two and sometimes the puck just bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t. I just try to feel good about myself every single game and feel comfortable out there. If it’s a shutout or not, it doesn’t matter as you play good and you win like today.”
There are still questions on how Tuukka will perform during the postseason. After all, he’s seen Tim Thomas take the reigns in each of the last two years, including the 2011 Cup run. Prior to that, Rask got the nod in 2010 leading the Bruins within one game of the Eastern Conference Finals before collapsing to the Philadelphia Flyers.
This is a different time, however. This is clearly a time where the Bruins will rely upon Rask in hopes of another deep, playoff run.
Rask is only one piece of the puzzle. But after Tuesday’s dud against Philly, its safe to say that he, and the other pieces, came together nicely.
“I’m really proud of the effort and how we responded after that pretty bad game in Philly,” said Rask. “Great effort.”
It couldn’t have come at a better time, either as the Bruins, who clinched home ice in the first round with Thursday’s win, enter the final weekend with a chance to secure a Northeast Division crown and prepare for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Every goal counts. Every win counts,” said Rask. “The battle level and the intensity level, I think it’s a bit higher. And for me, I think the biggest thing is fight for those loose pucks and take care of those.”
The Bruins hope to take care of business against the Washington Capitals (Saturday) and Ottawa Senators (Sunday) to close out the 2013 campaign. But that doesn’t mean that Tuukka is planning ahead.
“Yeah for sure, it’s been a pretty hectic schedule,” Rask said about his excitement for the postseason. “The weather is getting nice out there, and it’s the best time of a hockey players life, I think.”
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