BOSTON -- After his first night off of the season Monday night, when Anton Khudobin filled in with a 29-save performance in a 5-3 win at Carolina, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask picked up right where he left off, continuing his strong start to the season with a 25-save performance in a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils on Tuesday.
With his team playing on tired legs in the second game of their first back-to-back set of the season, Rask came up big when his teammates needed him, keeping them within striking distance to tie it, as Nathan Horton did with 4:05 left in regulation. Rask's efforts are much appreciated around the dressing room, and the Bruins know they can depend on him.
“That’s a success of any team in this league. When you talk about being able to win games on a consistent basis, you have to be able to rely on your goaltenders today,” coach Claude Julien said. “I think those big saves he made -- especially in the first period where we had a couple of lapses -- some tough decisions there and they drove the net and Tuukka stuck his pad out and made a big save that one time. He really made the keys saves at the right time and kept us in the game and allowed us to stay in the game. He finally got rewarded with us scoring a goal to tie it up and he did the job in the shootout.”
Rask stopped five of six shooters in the shootout, but it was his timely saves throughout the game that had his teammates raving.
“He was a difference-maker, especially in the first period,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of Rask, who is now 4-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. “He made some good saves. He was very solid, obviously. To score the goal they scored, he couldn’t really prevent it. It was a deflection, but other than that he had a really strong performance.”
Winger Nathan Horton concurred and compared Rask to a famous practice target for shooters.
“He’s been great, he’s like a shooter-tooter with no holes,” Horton quipped. “Everybody sees how good he is. He’s obviously helping us.”
After the game, Rask deflected the praise, crediting his teammates for coming through in a difficult game.
“I played OK, but I think as a team we’re showing great character throughout the first games of the season,” Rask said. “We came from behind today again, and I think that’s a good sign for our hockey club.”
It’s also a good sign that Rask is quickly erasing any doubt that he would be able to step back into the starter’s role he held for most of the 2009-10 season before Tim Thomas seized it back in 2010-11. The Bruins never seemed to doubt Rask could handle the role.
“We had a tough one yesterday, we came back in around 1 in the morning, so it was tough to get our legs going, but we found a way,” Krejci said. “Tuukka, he played great tonight. He does so many times in a game, especially in a shootout. It’s good to have him, we know we can count on him, and he’s going to win us some games. Tonight it was one of those nights.”