Undented Rask lifts Bruins to first ECF since '13

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- After punching his ticket to the second round, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was asked whether he thought it was important to be known as a big-game goalie.

"Yeah, well," Rask said. "It's better than sucking."

Rask dominated in Monday night's 3-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6, which brought the Bruins to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2013.

Rask turned away 39 shots in the win and was under constant siege. The Blue Jackets hit the crossbar or post at least four times.

"He kept us in the game," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "He looks real composed. They couldn't hit him or bump him, and they hit him hard tonight going to the net, got called for it, and he kept his composure. I think there was some gamesmanship most teams go through to try to get a goalie off his game. He was able to play through that."

For the series, Rask posted a sizzling .948 save percentage with a 1.71 goals-against average. Columbus tended to come out hot in every game, and Rask turned aside 54 of the 56 first-period shots (.964 save percentage). In his four wins against Columbus, Rask allowed just six goals while facing 137 shots. In total, the Blue Jackets had 212 shots and 68 high-danger chances in the series, and mustered only 11 goals.

"I think that he was our best player the whole series," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "He was the stone at the back end that we rely on every night, and he deserves a lot of credit for the performance he put in those six games."

It felt like Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella was trying to rattle Rask earlier on Monday. Tortorella told reporters, "I think we put a dent in Tuukka Rask heading into Game 6 here."

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy was not amused when he heard that comment.

"I don't think he's been dented," Cassidy said Monday morning.

Tortorella was much more complimentary of Rask after the series.

"Rask just took off, he's a big reason," the coach said. "We had some opportunities, but Rask just took off."

The Bruins will play the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals. The date of Game 1 has not yet been announced.