DETROIT - One goaltender was a late scratch from Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round between the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday. The other couldn't stop his team from falling in a 2-0 hole early in the game.
Fortunately for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask didn't let the two goals he allowed in the first 24:27 make him sick. And despite a valiant effort by Detroit backup Jonas Gustavsson, the Red Wings weren't able to prevail with their starter Jimmy Howard nowhere to be found rink side because of what was announced as flu-like symptoms.
Rask finished with 35 saves at Joe Louis Arena in the Bruins' 3-2 overtime victory, which put them ahead 3-1 in the best-of-7 series with Game 5 scheduled for Saturday at TD Garden (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TSN, RDS).
Knowing they had to play desperate, the Red Wings made lineup changes to insert captain Henrik Zetterberg and veteran human eclipse Todd Bertuzzi for Game 4. Rask felt the full thrust of the Red Wings' attempt to tie the series.
"They were a lot more physical and really crashed the net a lot," Rask said. "They had a lot of screens and shots I didn't even see. So it was the best of them, I think."
Rask was at his best after Pavel Datsyuk scored from the right side of the slot before the Bruins' goaltender could recover with the puck buzzing around the net like a bee. Datsyuk's goal at 4:27 of the second made it 2-0 and followed Niklas Kronwall power-play blast that eluded a Bertuzzi screen and Rask at 11:00 of the first period.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock regretted that his team didn't do more against Rask before the Bruins made their move.
"I thought Rask was good and we could have been up more after one, but we weren't and they stuck with it," Babcock said. "
Rask kept the Red Wings at bay after Datsyuk's goal. He made 15 saves during the third period and overtime. None was bigger than the stop he made on Justin Abdelkader seconds into overtime. After a Bruins giveaway, Abdelkader skated in so alone he looked like he was coming in on a shootout attempt. Rask closed his five-hole, and the game went on.
Rask said he didn't know Abdelkader was going to try to put one through the wickets.
"No, I didn't even know who it was," he said.
Overtime in Stanley Cup Playoff games is old hat to the 27-year-old Rask, who has been the Bruins' No. 1 goaltender for three postseason but is 8-4 in sudden death during the postseason. So although he only faced two more shots in overtime and it seemed like the Bruins were taking shooting practice, Rask knew he had to stay ready.
"Not really," Rask said after he was asked if he was getting nervous. "It's just a mental challenge. We have good looks but then we don't score and you know they're going to get their shots at some point. So I just tried to stay calm and focus on my job and give us a chance to get that goal."
Bruins forward Jarome Iginla finally gave Rask some relief when he scored on a triple deflection at 13:32 of overtime. All of Rask and the Bruins' resilience paid off, negating the Red Wings' best performance of the series.
"I let in two goals. They got that one screen goal. It was one of their guys and two of our guys screening," Rask said. "But you just have to battle. I thought we did a pretty good job at the end."
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