BostonBruins.com - When a goalie gives up four goals, there aren’t too many instances in which it can be considered an outstanding night. But in the Bruins 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, Tuukka Rask’s performance fit the bill.
Rask made 29 saves on 33 shots, with close to a dozen of those saves being far from routine. The Rangers, who were winless heading into the game, came out firing. The shots were fast and furious, especially from the Blueshirts’ dangerous top line of Rick Nash, Brad Richards, and Marian Gaborik, who combined for a whopping 15 shots.
Gaborik finished with a hat trick on six shots and could have had more if wasn’t for the heroics of the B’s new number one netminder.
After the Bruins came back to tie the game at three late in the third period, the Rangers were buzzing. With just under a minute to go, Nash beat Milan Lucic, forming a two-on-one with Gaborik.
Rask turned away the initial shot by Nash, but let a rebound fall just outside the crease. Gaborik tried to hammer home the puck on the backhand, but could not get it past the sprawling Rask, whose right arm was fully extended to keep it out of the back of the net.
Still, the puck was loose, allowing Richards to come swooping in from the blue line for a chance of his own. Rask, though, laying in a snow angel-type formation, got a piece of the puck with his stick to knock it away.
Johnny Boychuk was finally able to end the frantic few seconds by icing the puck.
“I think Looch is playing defense there and Nash just came around and shot low blocker,” said Rask after the game. “I just had to react to that and the rebound was laying there. I don’t know if Gaborik got a shot off or not, I was just doing snow angels at that point.”
The game headed to overtime, where just 27 seconds into the extra session, Gaborik finished off his hat trick. Rask made the initial save on a breakaway, but Gaborik was able to swat the puck out of mid-air to end the game.
A bad bounce capped off an otherwise terrific night.
“He scored a couple of those today,” said Rask of Gaborik’s hat trick. “The second goal he scored hit his shin pad and then he whacked it out of the air. And the last one - he’s got a quick snapshot, so I just closed my five-hole and he bats it out of the air again. He scored 50 goals last year.”
Rask’s performance against the Rangers, in addition to his strong start (2-0-1, 1.95 GAA, .926 save percentage) to the shortened season has left little doubt – especially for Head Coach Claude Julien – that he is ready to be the Bruins’ starting goaltender.
“Tuukka’s been good for us. He made some big saves that helped us get at least one point [against the Rangers],” said Julien. “He’s been really good. If anybody had doubts about Tuukka, hopefully they’re erased by now, because he’s been solid in every game he’s played.
“I think he’s given us exactly what we expected from him. Right now, if he can be consistent like that throughout the whole year, we’ll be in good shape.”
No pressure, right?
“Not really,” said the 25-year-old Rask. “I’m just trying to have fun and give the team a chance to win every night, that’s the only thing I can do. People try to talk about the pressure thing all the time, but I don’t really like talking pressure, just want to go out there and play my game.”