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Rask likely to start Bruins' next game

Goalie returns to practice after missing three games with concussion, should face Jets

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask likely will start for the Boston Bruins when they visit the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Friday (8 p.m. ET; TVAS, TSN3, NESN, NHL.TV) after missing three games with a concussion.

The goalie practiced at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday, when the Bruins returned from the NHL-mandated five-day break. Coach Bruce Cassidy said Rask was "looking great" and should play Friday, unless there are any setbacks.

"It's his first high-stress practice, so barring anything waking up tomorrow, he'll probably be our starter tomorrow," Cassidy said. "If not, he's definitely going to play Saturday [at the Minnesota Wild]."

Rask was injured at 1:12 of the first period during a 3-0 loss at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 14. He was elbowed in the head by Blue Jackets forward Emil Bemstrom, who was skating by the crease and was cross-checked into Rask by Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo. Goalie Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves in relief.

"I had motion sickness, very bad motion sickness, for the first two days," Rask said. "That was different [from previous concussions]. My headaches were not too bad, but sat in the car and then started walking, there was kind of spinning a little bit. That was different. I figured that might be because I got hit in the side of the head, so it messed up my balance. But other than that, I felt pretty good."

Rask said he did not skate during the break but added he had skated enough previously to feel confident enough to return. 

"They're never good, but I guess you have a break coming, so you have that time to recover," said Rask, who also sustained a concussion at almost exactly the same time last season, after a collision with the New York Rangers forward Filip Chytil on Jan. 19, 2019. "You're not rushing yourself. So I think that's a positive, having those seven, eight days, really just don't think about hockey and let your brain heal, your body heal. I think it was beneficial."

As for the hit by Bemstrom, Rask said, "He said it was an accident, so it was an accident. It looked bad, but I don't know if he was pushed or trying to rip his hand off of Carlo and did the motion, he said it was an accident. He's probably not a guy who would go out punching goalies purposely."

Rask was named to the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game for the Atlantic Division by going 17-4-6 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .925 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games, but withdrew from the game before being injured. In such a case, the NHL mandates a player serve a one-game suspension, choosing either the game before the All-Star break or after. The League determined Rask fulfilled that by missing the game before the break, a 3-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 21. 

He is 282-154-64 with a 2.28 GAA, .921 save percentage and 47 shutouts in 523 games (502 starts) through 13 NHL seasons, all with Boston.

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