Once again Tuukka Rask shines when Bruins needed him the most
During this ridiculous run of Boston sports history, there have been countless memorable moments.
Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning kicks. David Ortiz’s walk off hits. The Celtics 24-point comeback in the 2010 NBA Finals. Tim Thomas’ stick save on Steve Downie in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.
Add Tuukka Rask’s performance in Game 6 to the list.
“The best player on the ice tonight,” Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy said.
That he was.
Looking at the box score and seeing a 5-1 victory might lead you to believe that it was an easy night in goal for the Bruins goalie, but it was far from it.
Rask made 28 saves on 29 shots, while the Blues had 13 high danger scoring chances for.
“I’ve felt good all along in the playoffs. Sometimes you just play better than other nights. Sometimes you’re seeing the puck better just because your defense is playing better,” said Rask. “There are chances from the outside instead of rebounds from the slot. There are a lot of moving parts, so I’ve felt good all along. It’s not that I feel any different. It’s a team effort. We win as a team and lose as a team and that’s how we operate.”
The Bruins as a team operated well in Game 6, but it was simply another stellar performance from Rask in an elimination game.
In the three playoff games with the Bruins facing elimination, Rask is 3-0 with a .953 save percentage and a 1.33 goals against average. Allowing just four goals in those three games.
Combine that with the two chances the Bruins have had to close out a series without facing elimination and his record jumps to 5-0 with a .973 save percentage, a 0.80 goals-against average and two shutouts.
As the “least penalized team in the playoffs” coming into the Cup Final, the Blues were 0-4 on the power play. Rask was the Bruins’ best penalty killer as the Blues finished the night with 12 power play shots.
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead into the third period where they exploded for four more goals, but it was Rask’s performance in the first two periods that kept the Blues off the scoreboard.
No save was as insane and clutch as the one Rask teamed up with McAvoy on.
“It hit the post, and then kinda like, it was bouncing there and I think Chucky [McAvoy] hit it with his stick and I kinda heard it. I didn’t know where it was, and I figured it might be somewhere behind me, so I just tried to corral it with my hand behind my back,” Rask said. “And then it stuck in my pants, and then it fell somewhere. I think Chucky made a great play to keep it out of the net originally, and – it’s never a good thing for a goalie to kinda be facing the play with your back, but luckily it stayed out.”
Although the story of the 2018-19 Boston Bruins has one final chapter to be written Wednesday night, there’s no denying that Rask has been the hero of the Bruins story. The Bruins were able to force Game 7 behind a goalie who wasn’t ready for his season to end.
Now it has a chance to end with a twirl around the Garden ice, Stanley Cup in hand.
“It’s very exciting; a lot of us have played in the finals a couple of times and haven’t had the chance to clinch a game at home. The city will be behind us and very excited. But like Brad [Marchand] said, we’re going to just focus on our game,” said Rask.
“We have a hockey game to win.”