Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs marked another major milestone for Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
The 32-year-old registered his 500th career NHL game between the pipes. And it came against none other than the team that originally selected him with the 21st overall pick in 2005.
Rask stood tall in net and made 28 saves in the Bruins’ 300th all-time win over the Maple Leafs. Earlier in the night, he received a standing ovation from the TD Garden faithful.
“It’s super nice,” Rask said about the crowd’s gesture. “It’s one of those milestones that you are only going to hit once if you ever get there. I wanted to recognize the crowd, they have been behind me and the team for years so it was a nice moment.”
Rask has been one of the top goalies in the NHL since arriving in Boston in 2007-08. He sits atop the team’s all-time wins list with 269 victories and counting.
The Finn racked up some prestigious hardware during his eventful career. He’s one of the rare netminders that has won both the Vezina trophy (2014) and the Stanley Cup (as a backup to Tim Thomas in 2011).
Rask earned his fair share of critics over the years. Yet he remains an important core member, helping the Bruins to three Stanley Cup appearances in the last 10 years.
“Of course, yeah,” Rask said about if he feels appreciated in Boston. “Every athlete should feel that. Obviously you’re going to get criticized. That’s your job. Sometimes you suck and you have to take it, but the fans are great. They like their sports and every athlete should feel grateful to play in this kind of town.”
What’s crazy is that Raskra isn’t slowing down anytime soon. He’s followed up his impressive postseason run with a strong opening month to the new season. Rask, now 3-0-1 on the year, sits in the top five in save percentage (.946) and goals against average (1.72).
He has two years left on his deal, but Rask isn’t thinking about hanging up the skates anytime soon.
“I’m going year by year,” Rask told NESN following the win. “It’s been such a fun ride. So grateful to be a part of this city and organization. I feel good now, if you’re healthy why not keep playing?”
The Bruins will go as far as Rask will take them. He appears primed again to take the team on another long journey for hockey’s ultimate prize.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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