BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask made 26 saves on Wednesday night against the Senators in Game 1 of the Bruins' first-round playoff series. By shot total, it is not considered one of his heaviest workloads.
But anyone who watched Boston's 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Ottawa knows the box score does not tell the whole story. It would not be a stretch to say that, perhaps, nearly half of those 26 stops could be labeled as Grade-A level saves.
Rask was stellar throughout, allowing the Bruins to stay in the game, despite a stretch through the second period in which they did not land a single shot on goal.
"Tuukka's got excellent playoff numbers, and he's coming into the playoffs, I think, with a decent amount of rest and confidence," said interim head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's played very well of late, so good for him. He looks composed as well and did a real good job for us.
"And we needed it, because it could have gotten away from us in the second period."
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask preserves lead with two late saves
After a decent start, which featured a frantic pace from both sides, the Bruins hit a wall in the second. For a stretch of some 25 minutes, including the entire middle frame, Boston did not register a shot on goal, as they struggled to figure out Ottawa's patented neutral zone trap.
The Senators scored once in the period, while landing 12 shots on goal, and could have built an even larger lead if not for Rask's heroics.
"They certainly took it to us in the second period," said Adam McQuaid. "Tuukka made some huge saves to keep us in it. All through the game he made some huge saves."
Rask did not realize his team had gone such a long stretch without a shot, perhaps a telling sign of how laser sharp his focus was throughout.
"We did? I didn't know that," Rask quipped. "We were kind of taking it there pretty much the whole period and then they got the goal and got some life from that, and we never got anything going in the second.
"But we regrouped in the second intermission and played a pretty good third period."
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask denies Wingels' pair of chances
The Bruins scored twice in the third, with a tying tally from Frank Vatrano early in the period and the winner from Brad Marchand with just over two minutes to go.
"Tuukka stood tall and did a heck of a job on a few good looks for them and we were able to bury a couple of our looks in the third," said David Backes. "That's the kind of series it's going to be, tight-checking, tight-knit, one-goal games. We need to stick together and come out on top."
Rask will continue to be leaned on heavily, especially with the Bruins dealing with a host of injuries on the back end. Already without Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo to begin the series, Boston lost Colin Miller after taking a hit to the knee in the second period. Miller's status for Saturday is unknown, while Krug and Carlo remain day-to-day.
"It was just about sticking it with it - on the scoreboard we were still in a good situation, even though we weren't overly happy," said McQuaid. "It's just about sticking with it and playing right to the final buzzer."
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask stuffs Burrows with the pad
Which is exactly what Rask did. With just seven seconds remaining and Ottawa pushing hard for the equalizer, Rask denied Mark Stone's one-timer from the slot to seal Boston's victory.
"If any team wants to win the Stanley Cup they have to have a goalie that's playing on the top of his game," said Riley Nash. "When you're playing in front of a guy like that, he just oozes confidence into the rest of the team, knowing that every little mistake probably won't be highlighted or magnified.
"He'll bail you out a lot of the time. Definitely gives you that calming factor."
Here's a closer look at some of Rask's other highlight-reel stops from Game 1:
In the first period, with the game still scoreless, Rask went post-to-post to stop a charging Bobby Ryan with the left pad:
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask shuts down Ryan at the doorstep
Later in the opening period, following a David Pastrnak breakaway attempt, Derick Brassard had a breakaway of his own, which Rask denied:
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask pads away Brassard's break
Rask robbed Clarke MacArthur with a dazzling pad save on a point-blank one-timer in the second:
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask robs MacArthur's chance in front
Rask turned away a wide-open Chris Wideman with his left shoulder with six minutes left in the second:
Video: BOS@OTT, Gm1: Rask stands tall to turn away Wideman