Talking points: Tuukka Rask puts forth brilliant performance
Tuukka Rask was brilliant making 28 saves and stepping up in a big game when it really mattered for the Bruins. Sure the defense was pretty good in front of him, but he also stopped 28 saves for his career-best eighth shutout of the season while making 17 very important stops in the middle period. The toughest saves were sort of from his own doing after giving up rebounds, but he stepped up and stopped those chances for Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov during Tampa’s most effective flurry of the game. On a night when the Bruins lost Brad Marchand to a game misconduct for a dumb spearing penalty to the groin of Jake Dotchin, Rask was one of several players that stepped up and refused to let the Bruins lose this game.
Brad Marchand needs to be smarter than that in big games. He lost his cool at the end of the first period and gave a full, zealous spear to the nuggets of Jake Dotchin, which immediately earned him a five minute major and a game misconduct. For good measure he skated over after that to Dotchin and gave him a little stick tap to the face shield for good measure. That happened in a scoreless game that could have gone awfully wrong for Marchand and the Bruins, but instead they killed off the five minute PP for Tampa and played a strong second period. But now there is potential supplemental discipline to be concerned about after Marchand went off the rails in another big game where more discipline is mandatory.
The Bruins were potentially setting up a big hole for themselves when Brad Marchand was booted out of the game and the Lightning had close to a five minute power play to start the second period. Instead they allowed just two shots during the extended Tampa power play and shut down a Lightning man advantage that had torn them to shreds just a couple of weeks ago. That set up the Bruins scoring a few minutes later and putting together 20 shots on goal in a strong second period answer to the adversity that was nipping at their heels. That was the difference between winning and losing a game they had to have.
David Pastrnak was dropped to the third line in Sunday’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks, and it was clear that Bruce Cassidy didn’t feel he was strong enough on the puck at this point in the season. Well, it was a different story this time around with the 20-year-old scoring a second period goal on a scorched one-timer during 4-on-4 play, and then later on an empty net goal that gives him 34 goals on the season. Pastrnak also finished with a giant gash and stiches up by his eye where it looks like he caught a high stick, but just kept right on trucking for two goals, a plus-3 rating and seven shot attempts in 17:25 of ice time.
BY THE NUMBERS:
17-for-17 – the face-off performance for Patrice Bergeron in a game where he was pretty clearly locked in for a winning result.
“You always want to be playing for the ultimate trophy and you want to be in the playoffs. It’s fun hockey. It’s that time of the year where a lot of emotions are involved. It’s exciting for players, exciting for fans.” –Zdeno Chara, on the Bruins clinching a playoff berth after missing out for the last couple of seasons.