Rask: Sickness happened at 'the worst possible time'

Rask: Sickness happened at 'the worst possible time'

BOSTON – Tuukka Rask wasn’t able to answer the bell on Saturday afternoon with a 24-hour bug that knocked him on his proverbial butt. Some ridiculously thought he was ducking out of a big spot against the Ottawa Senators for a potential playoff bid, and the last minute nature of it seemed like somewhat odd circumstances with Jeremy Smith being called up from Providence.

Instead Jonas Gustavsson got the emergency start for the Black and Gold in the must-win regular season finale, and the Bruins were destroyed by a 6-1 score at the Garden after the B’s backup made 17 saves in the first period.

Rask confirmed on Monday while cleaning out his locker at TD Garden that it was an illness that started the night before, and basically kept him in the bathroom other than an attempt at pregame warm-ups.

“It was [not very good]. I mean I knew I wasn’t going to play, so I just went out there [for pregame warm-ups] and waited until Smitty [Jeremy Smith] came here,” said Rask. “But yeah, when you’re sick you’re sick. Trust me if I felt like there was a chance I would’ve helped the team, I would’ve gone out there. But I couldn’t even stand up really.

“It was terrible obviously, but you know you can’t control it so…it sucks but it’s life, you know? When it happens at the worst possible time, it just happens and you have to just take it, you know?”

Above and beyond that final, GI-challenged game of the year, Rask ends this season on a down note with the Bruins out of the playoffs and his numbers among the lowest of his career after faltering down the stretch behind a leaky defense. He finished 25th with a 2.56 goals against average and tied for 27th with a .915 save percentage, so essentially calling in sick for the must-win final game didn’t sit well with some folks.

It even had Don Cherry calling for Rask to be traded during a phone interview with WEEI on Monday morning after Grapes said Rask “couldn’t stop a beach ball” last week after Boston’s blowout loss to the Blackhawks. For his part, Rask said he wants to be in Boston “for the long run” and has the no-movement clause to make sure that happens.

“I’ve loved every minute being here, and I plan to be here many years to come. So I’m in for the long run, and I want to be part of the solution here, and bring this team back to the playoffs and bring the Cup back. That’s where my head’s at,” said Rask. “If you’re not wanted, then you really don’t have any options, but I doubt that’s going to happen. As I said, I’m here for the long run, and I want to help this team to get back on track. That’s where my head’s at.”

The bottom line with Rask: he needs to be better than this season with a $7 million cap hit for the next five years in Boston, but the Bruins goaltender is far from Boston’s most glaring issue unless he’s again stricken with an ill-timed stomach bug.

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

AP Photo

Bruins resiliency on full display in third-period comeback vs Stars

GOLD STAR: Every once in a while Brad Marchand wills the Bruins to a win that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that happened again on Friday night with a three-point explosion for No. 63 in the final 20 minutes. Marchand finished with a goal and three points in 19:57 of ice time along with a plus-2 rating, and played a key role in the three-goal outburst that allowed the B’s to vanquish a 2-0 deficit. It was Marchand that opted not to shoot from the face-off dot with a look at the net in the closing seconds, and instead dropped it down low to David Pastrnak as he curled around the net and pushed a puck past Kari Lehtonen for the game-winner. Marchand finished with two shots on net, eight total shot attempts and a number of big plays in the third period redirecting pucks in close, kicking off shorthanded scoring plays and then setting up clutch game-winners in the final 15 seconds of the game. It’s the kind of night where Marchand played like an MVP even if he isn’t going to get much of a sniff at the Hart Trophy. 

BLACK EYE: Jamie Benn scored a shorthanded goal for the Dallas Stars, but he also jumped up in the air and clobbered Brad Marchand from behind with a completely unnecessary hit in the third period that went without a penalty being called. Instead it seemed to incense Marchand, who never gave up in the final sequence and ultimately fed a pass to David Pastrnak down low for the game-winner with just 11.1 seconds remaining in the game. Benn finished a minus-2 for Dallas while being on the ice for a pair of goals against, had a brutal 1-for-7 performance in the face-off dot and really acted like a punk on the play with Marchand in the third period. Benn is a better player than that and shouldn’t be resorting that level on a fellow star player like Marchand. 

TURNING POINT: Once again the Bruins really turned things around in the third period while outscoring the Stars by a 3-0 margin, and really flooding the Dallas net with 10 of their 36 shots on net for the night. It all started with a relentless shift from Boston’s top line where Riley Nash made a pass from his knees before taking a big hit, and then Brad Marchand redirected a David Pastrnak shot from the slot off his leg and into the net for Boston’s first goal. That first score finally allowed the Bruins to begin building some momentum, score each of the next two goals as the game slipped away from Dallas and once again proved themselves as a hockey club that one doesn’t ever doubt in the third period. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Tuukka Rask had a career-high 40 saves and turned away some really good looks from the Dallas offense while showing exactly what the Bruins can be capable of when their goaltending is on point. The only goals that beat Rask were a first period score with droves of traffic in front of the net, and a second period shorthanded score for Jamie Benn where he pulled one of those unconventional finishing moves on Rask at the very end. Rask made 11 saves on the Dallas power play alone during a trio of PP chances, and made a crucial leg pad save on Antoine Roussel in the third period that helped open things up for the goal-scoring outburst late in the game. Hopefully the strong, resounding performance from Rask answers some of the questions about some of his recent so-so performances between the pipes.   

BY THE NUMBERS: 29 – the number of goals this season for David Pastrnak as he readies to become only the ninth Bruins player to hit the 30-goal plateau in back-to-back seasons over the last 35 years of franchise history. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “Resiliency. We didn’t want to go quietly for sure. We can live with the end result as long as we play the right way. The end result went our way again in the end, and I think that’s a credit to the guys.” –Bruce Cassidy to NESN about another comeback win for the Black and Gold.

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

AP Photo

Pastrnak scores with 12 seconds left to lift Bruins over Stars, 3-2

DALLAS - David Pastrnak broke a tie with 12 seconds left and the Boston Bruins scored three straight goals in the third period to rally past the fading Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night.

A scramble followed a faceoff in the Dallas end, and Brad Marchand passed to Pastrnak in front. While falling down, he put the puck past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen.

TALKING POINTS: B's resiliency on full display vs Stars

Tuukka Rask made a season-high 40 saves for the Bruins. Marchand scored Boston's first goal and also assisted on a short-handed goal by Tim Schaller that tied it midway through the third period.

The second-place Bruins won for the first time in three games (1-0-2) to move within four points of Atlantic Division leader Tampa Bay. Boston has already clinched a playoff berth.

The Stars are winless in their last seven games (0-5-2). They remained four points behind Colorado for the second Western Conference wild card.

Dallas led 2-0 on a first-period goal by Esa Lindell and Jamie Benn's short-handed score late in the second.

In the third, Marchand tipped in a shot by Pastrnak before Schaller scored on a 2-on-1 with Marchand.

Lehtonen finished with 33 saves.

Lindell scored 2:26 into the game. Jason Dickinson tried to deflect a shot from the right point into the net but the puck went wide right. Curtis McKenzie picked it up behind the goal line and passed to Lindell high in the left faceoff circle. His wrist shot went in off Rask's right arm.

Benn missed two good scoring opportunities early in the second period, but connected at 19:22. He took a pass from Tyler Seguin at the Dallas blue line and had a breakaway when Matt Grzelcyk fell down. Benn slid a backhand under Rask.