Tuukka Rask unsung hero in Game 7 win
Two U’s, Two K’s and more than two game-changing saves that kept the Bruins in Game 7 to allow them to complete this almost impossible comeback.
The Bruins were playing from behind almost the entire night, but that did not stop goaltender Tuukka Rask from standing on his head to make sure his team went down with a fight in front of their home crowd.
Yes, Patrice Bergeron scored two goals including the tying-goal and the winning goal and Milan Lucic brought out his inner Cam Neely in the third period to mount the comeback, but Rask’s performance was also noteworthy.
To recall one instance, it was 4-2 late in the third period when Matt Frattin was in all alone on Rask. If he scores, it is surely over, but Rask denied him with a beautiful leg save keeping the B’s heads above water for one last time. This may have been the biggest save of the night, but Rask was all over the place in Game 7 despite allowing four goals.
Rask stopped 24 Maple Leaf’s shots on the night and deserves to be in the same sentence with Bergeron and Lucic when discussing this unbelievable win. His performance cannot be overlooked.
Rask thought in the back of his mind if his team could get that one quick one, they would always have a chance to win.
“I honestly knew we had what it takes to come back, but you know we just needed to get that quick goal to get something going,” Rask said. “It was dead out there for a bit after that 4-1 goal, but I knew if we got one goal and then another one and then who knows what happens. So, I just tried to stay with it. They had that one chance to make it 5-2, but I just thought to myself I had to stay with it.”
Rask understood it’s never easy playing in over time especially in a Game 7 while being a goaltender.
“It’s do or die,” Rask said. “You have to make a save. You’re either a hero or you’re an [expletive].”
He turned out to be the hero.
When addressing the team after the game head coach Claude Julien recognized Rask’s performance in the win.
“I thought it was a good character win,” Julien said. “When you’re down 4-1 with eight minutes left and get yourself back in the game to make it 4-2 – we shouldn’t forget that Tuukka made a big save on that breakaway that would have made it 5-2. He kept us in there.”
Rask knows what it feels like to be on the other side of the spectrum as James Reimer was lying on the ice in defeat. Rask experienced that scenario in the collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers three years ago, but on this night he could skate off the ice with jubilation as his team did something no team has ever done in a Game 7 – come from three goals down in the third period to win a playoff hockey game.
Rask finished the series with a 4-3 record and 2.49 goals against average. He played every minute that was to be played and it should be no different as he will try to outperform Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers in Round 2 beginning Thursday night in Boston.
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