Tuukka Rask's lost skate blade was the Tampa Bay Lightning's gain.
The Boston Bruins goalie had the blade on one of his skates come off while making a save in the second period, and seconds later Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Mikhail Sergachev scored a power-play goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round series Saturday. The Bruins won the game, 6-2.
Rask's blade came dislodged when he made a kick save on Lightning forward Yanni Gourde. He pleaded with officials while the puck came back to Sergachev, then fired his skate blade at the boards after the Lightning defenseman beat him to cut Boston's lead to 3-2.
"I saw it instantly that my blade was gone," Rask said. "So then I was trying to yell, as I'm following the puck I'm trying to yell for the ref that my blade's off. I even took a peek and he just didn't seem to notice. And then slapshot coming out there, you're swimming and just trying to scramble, keep your balance. I think your options are you either just don't say anything and just try to stop the puck, or you try to say something while you're following the puck. I took the latter option."
The decision not to stop play was the correct one based on rule 14.1, which states that, "play shall not be stopped nor the game delayed by reasons of adjustments to clothing, equipment, skates or sticks."
Play can be stopped if the goaltender loses his helmet, for safety reasons, under rule 9.6.
"What is the rule?" Rask asked, after the game. "I was trying to figure that out."
Rask was left with some overheated emotions after the play was over. Though he threw the blade, he made sure not to throw it in the direction of anyone.
"Can't make a save, so you're scrambling in there and then emotions run high," Rask said. "I was just trying to get it fixed and get back in there, keep up the play."
The rule is clear, stating "the onus of maintaining clothing and equipment in proper condition shall be upon the player."
"The refs will use common sense," NHL senior vice president and director of officiating supervision Stephen Walkom wrote in an email. "If Boston gets control of the puck, they will probably kill the play, but at no time will they disadvantage the opposing team."
Rask could not have removed his helmet or dislodged the net on the play, or he would have been penalized for a delay of game.
"I don't know if he was supposed to blow it down or not," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "I was hoping he would, obviously. Plays like that really impact the game. But he didn't."
Rask has worn quick-release skates for about two years, he said. The NHL has suggested to goaltenders that they use blades with screws because play will not be stopped in such situations. Rask, though, said after the game that he's unlikely to go back - even knowing what he now knows.
"Probably not," he said. "Our trainer put some epoxy on it, make sure they won't come off. It's a tough bounce."
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