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Tuukka Was Up to the Task

by Dyan LeBourdais / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins' David Krejci, of the Czech Republic, left, battles for the puck with New York Islanders' Matt Moulson, second from left, as the Islanders's Kyle Okposo (21) and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, of Finland, right, look on in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Boston, MA -- Saturday night in the TD Garden, Bruins rookie goalie Tuukka Rask made 35 saves in his 2009-10 regular season debut and earned the 4-3 shootout win versus the New York Islanders.

“After a three-nothing deficit after two periods, you got three goals, overtime and win in [a] shootout,” said Rask. “I mean, it’s a nice feeling to have.”

The Islanders came out strong and head coach Claude Julien said Rask kept the Bruins within striking distance.

“He was good tonight, especially early on,” said Julien. “Coming out of that period zero to zero, with all the penalties that we had…that is tough.

“He did a great job at keeping us in the game.”

Rask hadn’t seen a game situation in some time, but that didn’t show up in his performance.

“He hadn’t played in two weeks,” said Julien. “But he has had some really good practices and we have really worked him hard. We have kept him sharp.”

Even though Rask saved all 16 shots on net in the first period, Julien said seeing all those pucks early on was most likely helpful for the young goaltender.

“It was probably good for him,” said the coach. “It got him into the game and got him feeling comfortable.

“I think a goaltender feels more nervous when he hasn’t gotten any shots…[and] I think it worked in his favor in a way that he had those shots.

“He stood tall for us.”

Rask said he knew the Islanders would come out flying.

“Well Scott Gordon, the coach, I know him from Providence and his system is based on hard work,” explained Rask of his former mentor. “And we knew that’s the way it was going to be, but I don’t think we were well prepared for them to come out that hard.

“They really gave it to us in the first period.

“They’re a hard working team and you got to give them credit for that,” he said.

In the second, the B’s went down by three with goals scored by the Islanders Jon Sim, Radek Martinek and John Tavares respectively.

“Well, it’s kind of tough,” said Rask of the onslaught. “You have to balance and just focus on the next shot.”

However, Rask said that he could feel the crowd’s passion building during the third as his club began to rebound.

“I mean, the way we played in the third and the way the crowd was in it was unbelievable,” he said. “That’s what you want from your home crowd, but you have to earn it and I think we did in the third.

“They really gave a good confident boost to get those goals.”

The Bruins reached overtime via third period goals by Marc Savard (11:59), Byron Bitz (15:35) and Matt Hunwick (17:26), but were unable to notch the game winner during the extra session.

It didn't matter, Rask said he felt pretty good going into the shootout.

“We’ve been practicing [shootouts] a lot and I felt pretty confident,” said Rask. “After last year too, I was involved in a lot of shootouts and I did [okay].

“So I felt confident.”

Blake Wheeler netted the first goal of the penalty shot contest, but the Islanders Rob Schremp scored to tie it up 1-1. However, Rask closed the door the rest of the way and thanks to Savard’s shootout-deciding goal, the young goalie got the win.

And in the end, even if he thought his club had an uneven performance overall, Julien was pleased with Rasks’ play.

“I think he played a real solid game for us,” he said.
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