BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins came up one win shy of their ultimate goal.
Rask allowed four goals on 20 shots, including two on four shots in the first period, and the Bruins lost 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on Wednesday.
"It was tough," Rask said. "We created a lot of chances and shots, and I barely made a save and it was 2-0. So I really wanted to make one of those saves, didn't, but we tried to battle back. They're a tough team to beat when they have the lead."
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Boston fell behind after Rask allowed goals to Ryan O'Reilly (16:47) and Alex Pietrangelo (19:52), but each was hardly his fault. O'Reilly redirected Jay Bouwmeester's point shot from the high slot after the Bruins lost a couple battles in front, and Pietrangelo scored on a backhand from in front on an odd-man rush.
Regardless, Rask took responsibility for his faults and credited the Blues for changing their strategy against him and winning the NHL championship for the first time.
"It was a different game. They didn't have any power plays, you know … they were very opportunistic, I guess," Rask said. "You know then there's not a whole lot there, and they capitalize on every shot. It seemed like their game plan was not to shoot the puck, but just to dump it in and wait for mistakes, which they did. So that was probably different."
In the regular season, Rask won his 253rd NHL game with a shutout against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 3 to set a Bruins record, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs were where he wanted to leave his mark. He was the backup to Tim Thomas when Boston won the Cup in 2011, and was the starter in the 2013 Cup Final, which the Bruins lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
In 24 playoff games this season, Rask went 15-9 with a 2.02 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. A subpar Game 7 didn't ruin his run in the minds of his teammates.
"For him to be as good as he was, that's the reason we're here," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "He was incredible every night, gave us every opportunity to win. He's the best goalie in the League. He showed that in the playoffs, and he did a [heck] of a job, and he did his part."
Video: STL@BOS, Gm7: Rask gets help from Chara at goal line
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out that because Boston didn't score until Matt Grzelcyk's goal with 2:10 left in the third period cut it to 4-1, there wasn't much Rask could've done.
"[St. Louis] outplayed us at certain moments of the game at all positions, and that's why they won," Cassidy said. "The second goal is a great play by their defenseman to join the rush. They finished some plays when they had to, and we didn't.
"Obviously [Blues goalie Jordan] Binnington made some big saves for them in the first period. [Rask] was excellent, he was our best player. I don't think anybody is leaving the building tonight, unfortunately in our locker room, saying they put their best foot forward. Unfortunately, that's the whole group."
After the game, it was difficult for Rask to look back at his performance this postseason, just as it was difficult to look at the strides the Bruins made by reaching the Cup Final after losing in the second round last season.
"You're playing for the trophy at this point," Rask said, "so obviously it's a bit … more at stake. But losing [stinks], period, so whatever."