MONTREAL -- Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask silenced the critics and answered any questions surrounding his play against the Montreal Canadiens with a 35-save performance in a 4-1 win at Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
Rask had put himself in a cocoon since he and his teammates arrived in Montreal on Tuesday morning. He was one of the first to board the team bus after practice that afternoon and didn't partake in the morning skate Wednesday.
Rask clearly didn't want to face any questions, not only the Bruins' recent struggles against the Canadiens -- they had lost five straight regular-season games entering Wednesday -- but also his own; Rask entered the game 2-10-1 in his career against Montreal. His most recent win against the Canadiens came on Feb. 6, 2013, when he made 20 saves in a 2-1 win. His only other victory against the Canadiens was on Feb. 7, 2010, when he made 36 saves in a 3-0 victory.
Goalie - BOS
GAA: 2.12 | SVP: 0.928
Following his third career win against the Canadiens, Rask was more excited that the Bruins beat Montreal, not that he had beaten a team that had haunted him for most of his career. Rask was huge in the first period when his team was outshot 14-6 and struggled to find its stride. But he credited his teammates for holding their ground in front of him.
"Despite the start I thought we played a pretty solid game," Rask said. "We took most of their opportunities away and then capitalized on ours in the second period. It's a good road win, especially with the little cushion there and we're happy where our game is headed right now."
His teammates clearly fed off his play, which included stops on breakaway chances by Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty. The Bruins also made some adjustments, clogging up the neutral zone to prevent Montreal from using its speed.
"We had to put pucks deep and grind it out there," Rask said. "If you turn it over in the blue lines and give them speed, they're going to make some plays. We noticed that in the first and then told ourselves, 'Let's play in their end and hold onto that puck,' and it helped and paid off."
But pressed more, Rask -- who improved to 29-14-4 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .928 save percentage this season - took some of the credit.
"I always take credit," Rask joked. "They had a couple of breakaways there, but we kept it on the outside pretty good there."
His teammates made it clear that they wouldn't have gotten out of that first period scoreless without Rask's performance.
"He kept us in the game for sure in the first period and made some huge saves for us," said center Patrice Bergeron, whose goal 9:25 into the second period made it 2-0. "That's something you hear almost every game now with him. He does that for us night in and night out, and I thought we responded really well from his game in the first and we got going with that goal and after that it was a great game."
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk was also happy that Rask was there to cover up his and his teammates' mistakes in the first period, and at points in the second when Montreal seemed to gain momentum.
"He was pretty good," Boychuk said in a tongue-in-cheek tone. "He made some key stops when they had some chances to score. They shouldn't have gotten those chances, but lucky we have him back there to stop them."