BOSTON, MA - After the Bruins' 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs Monday night, Tuukka Rask was seen in the locker room sporting the B's red rooster "Player of the Game" t-shirt.
Rask was back between the pipes, after Anton Khudobin started the previous two games, giving No. 40 rest before a tough divisional stretch. (Though Rask did see action relieving Khudobin during the third period of the B’s 3-2 loss to Toronto on Saturday night).
And Rask allowed just two goals on 25 shots and came up big in the shootout, to help lead the Bruins to the much needed two points to snap a brief two-game skid.
“I hope it does good things,” said Rask, when asked after the game what the win will do for the Bruins. “It was a big win for us. We really got going there the second half of the second period and then [got] a big win.”
The B’s goalie shut the door in the shootout after Tyler Bozak scored on the Leafs’ first attempt. He denied both Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin to seal the victory.
Add that to a number of big-time stops late in the second and third periods and the performance landed Rask the victory rooster t-shirt, joining Nathan Horton and Dennis Seidenberg to have donned the B's "Player of the Game" tee.
“I had a chance to make a big save there in the second, but then I just figured I’ve got to start battling harder because they didn’t get too many chances,” said Rask.
“Today I just tried to battle through it and it got us a win, so that was good.”
B’s Head Coach Claude Julien didn’t want anyone to read too much into his decision to play Khudobin over Rask in consecutive games. The B’s bench boss has been happy with Rask’s play and said his decision was based on rewarding Khudobin for his solid performance this season and giving Rask a break.
“I don’t think Tuukka’s been bad at all guys,” Julien to the media after the win. “I hope people didn’t read into Khudobin playing two games, because I think Khudobin deserved to play two games. He’s played well all season long, he played well in Ottawa, and this was an opportunity to get him two games in a row and that’s all it was.
“We’ve got a busy week this week and I needed Tuukka fresh and that’s all it was. So certainly had nothing to do with that. And Tuukka, to me, has been good. He’s never been bad, he’s been great and he’s been good.
“We’ve gotten some pretty good games out of him and I don’t think we can necessarily point the finger at him for losing any games for us this year.”
Patrice Bergeron, who scored the tying goal with 10:36 left in the third and then again in the shootout, said the win against the Leafs was not just about picking up Rask, but improving as a team.
“I think it’s about everyone picking it up, and I think that’s not just for Tuukks, but for ourselves, for us as a team,” said the B’s assistant captain. “We had to be better overall, and we still need to better. I think it was a step forward. We still have some work to do, and that’s the way it goes.
“You’ve just got to keep fighting through it, but we have a lot of confidence for Tuukks and in Tuukks. He does the job, so we’ve got to do it in front of him as well.”