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Tuukka Rask Doesn't Miss a Beat

Rask felt good after his return

by Caryn Switaj @NHLBruins / Boston Bruins - Tuukka Rask had no trouble in his return to the lineup on Saturday night in Detroit, when he backstopped the Bruins to a 1-0 shutout of the Red Wings.

"Tuukka being Tuukka," said Tim Schaller, who scored the game-winner with his first goal as a Bruin. "Didn't miss a beat. Looked calm as ever back there. I thought our D did really well, in clearing everyone out for him, and a good team effort for the win."

Rask made 24 saves in the win. He didn't touch his first real rubber until midway through the first, when Detroit landed its first shot on goal with 9:36 left in the period.

"It's not an ideal start, after missing a week, when you don't see a puck, but you're just trying to stay focused and wait for that shot to come," said Rask. "I think for myself, it was pretty much a 40 minute game, the first period they didn't really have a chance there, I don't think, but a great effort by the guys. We played a heck of a game."

The Red Wings went into the game as one of the hottest teams in the League, having won six straight. They've been getting strong goaltending, and Saturday's performance from Jimmy Howard was no different.

But the combination of Rask back between the pipes for Boston, and a team game that thwarted Detroit's speed, earned the Bruins their first win in four games.

"I really think our guys in front of Tuukka deserve a lot of credit, too, and that's the whole team," said Julien. "I think they played a solid game. Our skating game was there. I thought we forechecked well, I thought we were on top of them quickly."

It's not easy to slow down Detroit's game, and Boston managed to do that for nearly the full 60 minutes.

"That's a good skating team on the other side, and we need to take away the speed of their game, and I thought we checked well," said Julien.

"And at the same time, Tuukka just kept everything calm in there, making every save look easy, and yet he had to make some big saves," Julien continued. "So I think there's a combination of everything - when your No. 1 goalie comes back, there's no doubt there's a confidence level that grows with that I think we played much better in front of him than we did in front of the other guys there when he was injured."

There's no denying the calmness that comes from having your starting netminder back between the pipes. It's almost a subconscious feeling, knowing that he'll control the pace of the game.

"He kind of has a calming influence over us," Torey Krug had said prior to the game, anticipating Rask's return. "When things go wrong, he has the ability to make a big save or a big play and ultimately it can change a game."

About eight minutes into the second period, Rask had to make a quick sequence of three saves after a giveaway in the defensive zone. He stopped Justin Abdelkader back to back, then punched out a Tomas Tatar shot from the mid-slot through traffic with his glove.

Video: Rask, Schaller lead Bruins past Red Wings, 1-0

During the week or so that Rask was out with soreness and couldn't skate, he kept up his tennis ball juggling to keep his hand-eye coordination fresh. It paid off on that save.

"Well, you know, we gave up that full-ice 2-on-1 there, that was important to keep that out and then a couple of turnovers there that led to some scoring chances," said Rask.

"I thought we regained ourselves after that and kind of calmed things down and we were OK," said Julien. "So the second period, I know it seems to be a big focus for people, but I thought our second period was much better than it has been."

"After that, it was pretty quiet and we boxed everybody out and blocked a ton of shots," said Rask. "So, great effort."

In addition to Rask's 24 saves, the Bruins blocked 14 attempts. Detroit also missed the mark on five shots.

"It's one of those games that you don't see a lot of action, but then you know they're going to get chances; no team's going to be zero scoring chances a game," said Rask. "So that's the way it went, and it was good."

The second period featured big saves, and it also featured the lone goal of the game, thanks to Schaller's goal with 2:49 to go in the period.

After Dominic Moore stole the puck in the hash marks, Schaller threw the puck on net from the goal line to the left of Howard, and banked it off the post, off his back and over the line. That 1-0 lead was all the Bruins and Rask needed to close out the game.

"I guess the nice ones don't go in for me," laughed Schaller, who had Howard beat on a shorthanded breakaway earlier in the night, but his shot hit the knob of the netminder's stick. "But I'll take the greasy ones."

The goal marked Schaller's third career goal and his first as a Bruin, through 41 games in the League (35 of which came with the Buffalo Sabres).

"I've been looking for that first one for the first - I think it's been five games for me now," said Schaller. "I kind of knew this was the night when I had those close chances, but hopefully that's the first of many."

The 25-year-old New Hampshire native and former Providence College Friar has formed one of the most consistent lines for the Bruins along with Moore and Noel Acciari.

"We keep it simple. We grind it out as a line," said Schaller. "You won't see too many pretty goals from the fourth line, but nobody asks how, right? That was a good one for us, got the momentum going for us for a little bit there, and we were able to hold them off."

"He's just - he's playing hard, he's just playing hard, he's playing smart, he's doing the right things and I think he's leaving everything out there on the ice," Julien said of Schaller. "And a guy like that always comes up with solid games."

"He was, without a doubt, one of our better players - good at getting pucks out, he made things happen offensively, he was solid on his skates, you know, just a good player and no doubt he helps our fourth line be a better line, just by the way he plays, so that line was good again for us."

The Bruins earned a day off on Sunday in Florida, before getting back to action on Tuesday night. They have two more games on the road trip to make it a successful one, first against the Panthers on Tuesday night, and then against the Lightning in Tampa on Thursday.

They'll still be without David Pastrnak, who will miss one more game with his suspension, and possibly David Backes, whose elbow injury was going to be re-evaluated after the weekend.

But it sounds like they'll still have Rask between the pipes.

"Oh for sure. Yeah, I felt good. Felt good. No problems there," Rask said after his Saturday night performance in Detroit.

"I'm sure I'll be fine; it's just nothing to worry about really," he said. "It's probably going to be sore, but you're always sore I guess."

Rask would be riding his best career start into the matchup with the Panthers. He's 4-0-0 to start a season for the first time in his career, with a 1.26 goals-against average and .958 save percentage.

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