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A Step in the Right Direction for Rask

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins – The last time Tuukka Rask started in the First Niagara Center, it lasted just 21:52 seconds as he let up three goals before being replaced by Tim Thomas.

But when he returned to the same arena last night, Rask stopped 26 of 27 shots as the Bruins fell to the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a shootout.

The start was refreshing for Rask who gave up just one goal for the first time in his last eight starts.

“I just have to be more patient and not go down too early,” Rask said. “I did pretty good with that – except for that [first] goal, so it was a step ahead and hopefully I can keep it up.”

Captain Zdeno Chara tied the game early in the third period as the Bruins peppered the Sabres with 15 shots in the final frame, while Rask was tested just five times.

“I don’t think we gave up a ton of chances,” Rask said. “Obviously, the second period was a little sloppy from us, but the third period especially – straight hockey from us. [We] just couldn’t capitalize on those chances and get the win in regulation.

"But [it was a] good battle – shootouts can go either way and today they didn’t.”

Watching Rask replicate the play he displayed in the first half of the season was also reassuring for Head coach Claude Julien.

“I thought he was good tonight, he was solid making good saves – key saves,” Julien said. “He was really in good control.

"From the bench, he seemed calm – making saves look easy so I liked the way he battled back in this building from the last time. His game was good – certainly gave us a chance to win this one.”

After Rask’s last start in Buffalo, he didn’t play the next three games as he worked to fine-tune his game. After giving up four goals against Winnipeg Feb. 17, he was back to work on his game.

Goaltender coach Bob Essensa joined the team in St. Louis, and specifically worked with Rask.

“[Going down early] has been a weakness of mine lately,” Rask said. “It has a lot to do with confidence. 'Goalie Bob' came here and we started to work on that.

"It’s good when somebody tells you that, because you don’t necessarily realize it yourself.

“And you know, it’s not always the easy thing to do when you’re not feeling the best you’ve ever felt. It’s a challenge mentally to stay patient and stay up, but as I said, it was a step forward for me [tonight],” he said.

--Anthony Gulizia
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