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Rask Provided the Backbone

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON —  “Our goalies always provide a pretty strong backbone,” said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference after his club's 2-1 shootout win over the Columbus on Thursday.


Without the strong puck-stopping provided by Boston backstop Tuukka Rask, the Blue Jackets might have snapped the B's six-game win streak, but Rask denied 30 of the 31 shots he faced and made it seven victories in a row for the Black & Gold.

“It was kind of a slow start I guess. I had less than ten shots half way through the game pretty much,” said the B’s goalie, who saw only five shots in the first period. “Then it kind of picked up a little bit and got the sweat going.” 

Mid-way through the game, turnovers and close chances on both ends of the ice added sparks to a fairly dull contest.

"Before that there were not too many shots coming at the net," said Rask. "So it definitely gives you a wake up call and keeps you on your toes."

Despite a second period goal by Derek MacKenzie at 2:49 (matched by Boston's Adam McQuaid at 4:24), Rask remained sharp throughout the game and made key saves to keep the B’s alive. Unfortunately for the B's, Blue Jackets goalie Curtis Sanford did the same for Columbus and as regulation time wound down it was clear more time would be needed to decide a 1-1 nail-biter.

Both teams took a man off the ice to start overtime, but saw 4-on-4 play for only a minute as Columbus forward Antione Vermette headed for the box. On their overtime power-play, the B’s hit about everything except the twine, but After two minutes of the post and great scoring opportunities, Rask was not surprised at what came next.

“I knew they were going to get a power play, that’s how it always goes,” he said.

Over an intense final two minutes, Rask denied the Blue Jackets power play unit and carried his team to the game-deciding penalty shot contest.

“Tuukka made big saves when we needed him to and kept us in there and allowed us to win in the shootout,” said Head Coach Claude Julien.

The B’s showed confidence in their goaltender as they chose to go first. 

Tyler Seguin was shut down by Sanford to start round one. Rask was next and knew what to do.

“It’s all about the patience and how patient you can be and stay on your feet,” said Rask.
 
Rick Nash lined up at center-ice and the Columbus captain showed no preview to his deke, but Tuukka was waiting for a quick move as he extended his legs to the post and ended round one with a huge save.

After Boston's Rich Peverley and Columbus' Mark Letestu both scored to push the tallies to 1-1 in round two, Tuukka watched his teammate David Krejci put a quick, low shot into the mesh behind Sanford.

All of the eyes in the TD Garden returned to the Bruins crease, but once again #40 kept his cool.

“You don’t want to over think right? You have a chance to make a save and win the hockey game so that’s pretty much the only thing you focus on,” he said.

Rask denied Antione Vermette and improved his season record to 3-3-0 and once again showed he is one of two great options in net for the B’s.

“Tuukka was the guy that kept us in,” said Julien. “He’s a goaltender that I think has been working extremely hard in practice, doing extra and everything else.

"It’s nice to see him back to .500.”

---John Griffin
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