BOSTON – When Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask pulls a nutty, like he did after Boston lost 3-2 in a shootout to the St. Louis Blues Thursday night at TD Garden, you know he'll have a few interesting things to say after the game.
He certainly did after this one. Two of the best teams in the NHL produced 60 minutes of exciting hockey in regulation and five more in overtime before the Blues' Derek Roy scored in the fourth round of the shootout to beat Rask and the Bruins. Boston's goaltender slammed his stick against the post and again against the ground as he exited the ice.
"I'd probably be laughing right now if we won, right? But it sucks when you lose it," he said. "I just hate, especially when you can't stop the puck. That's the worst feeling."
NHL general managers met in Toronto two weeks ago and discussed overtime and the shootout but came to no real conclusion as to how, or if, things would be changed. If Rask had a vote, his decision would be an easy one.
"I'd gas it right away. Midseason, take it away," he said of the shootout format. "I don't [expletive] want it."
How would Rask tweak the overtime?
"Maybe play 10 minutes," he said.
He also liked the idea of following the 4-on-4 overtime session with another five minutes of 3-on-3.
"At least it would be a goal within the game, not just a shootout goal," he said.
The Bruins are 1-2 in shootouts this season. Rask's mentality is simply to stop the puck, but it's a bit different during shootouts. It's even a drill he dislikes when the Bruins practice it.
"You can't be too hyped up," he said. "You've got to try to get a read on the guy, and today I was there pretty much on every shot, except maybe that last one. When you're there but they score, it kind of sucks even more."
When the regular season ends, there are usually a few teams that sneak into the playoffs because of those extra points.
"Both teams played good and both teams had chances," Rask said. "It's a tie game, so if it would [end] 2-2, I think both teams would be happy with that because both teams played a good game. We got a point but we could have had two, or both teams could've had one. It's a pretty bad feeling when you're on the losing side."
Many of the Bruins believed that if there wasn't a shootout to decide the outcome, Thursday's game would have continued for a long time through overtime because both teams were playing well. In the shootout, Patrice Bergeron scored the Bruins' lone goal, but it wouldn't stand up. After the one-point loss, the Bruins' assistant captain was politically correct one when asked about the shootout format.
"I'm happy it's not like that in the playoffs," Bergeron said. "But that being said, it is the rule and it's been going on for quite a while now. We're used to it, I'm used to it now and I know that's how the outcome is going to be played. When you do win you're happy with it, but when you don't get the extra point you don't like it. You've got to be smart and realize it goes both ways. We have as many chances as they do to win."
Of course, Bruins coach Claude Julien felt the same way. The rules are the rules and that's how you play the game. Still, a two-point win against a team like St. Louis would have given Boston seven wins in its last eight games, but instead the Bruins are 6-1-1 in their last eight games.
"It doesn't matter whether we win or lose in a shootout, we all have our opinions on that," Julien said. "I just find when a game is played so well like that, it's a lot easier when both teams could've walked out of here and said, 'You know what? A hard fought game' and both teams would've been happy. Right now, you come out of there, more or less feeling like you've lost a game. In my mind we played well enough to win. Those are tough, whatever, if you want to call it a loss to take because I thought we deserved a lot better."
The NHL introduced the shootout format after the lockout in 2004-2005. There's always been mixed feelings about it, and at first it seemed fans enjoyed it rather than having the game end in a tie, or extending the overtime. On Thursday, there were many empty seats at TD Garden during the shootout.
"I think it's more fun for the fans, maybe, to see a shootout," said Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, who is also in favor of extending the overtime period. "I thought we had a pretty good overtime and had some chances and it would've been nice to keep it going.
His choice: "I'd rather have another overtime and keep it going. I think it's fun to play 4-on-4. It gives you a little bit more space and it's fun for the fans to see, too. Plus, there are more scoring chances, too. That would be pretty fun, a 3-on-3 and see what happens there. There would be a lot of space out there if you did that."
Overall, Julien was pleased with the 65-minute effort from the Bruins. It was one of their better games of the season with all four lines chipping in and the defensive core doing its job, too.
"It's been a while since we've played a good, solid 60 minutes like that," Julien said.
The two goals St. Louis scored in regulation were just bad bounces for the Bruins. Both teams produced quality chances in overtime before the shootout.
"I thought it was a real fun game to watch," Julien said. "There were a lot of opportunities, some great plays, some great body checks – everything you wanted to see in this game was there. In overtime, there were some chances in overtime and everything except that extra point we should have had."