Talking Points: Tuukka Rask plays his best at perfect time
A strong night for Tuukka Rask in his seventh shutout of the season as the Bruins netminder stopped 27 shots, including 11 in the third period where one little misstep could have allowed Dallas right back into the game. Rask probably wasn’t challenged too much until the third period, but at that point he really locked things down while standing tall during a four minute PP for the Stars late in the game. Rask is now 2-0-0 with a .981 save percentage while stopping 51-of-52 shots in wins over Nashville and Dallas, and is playing at his best late in the season when the Bruins need him the most. The four game losing streak from last week is quickly fading from memory as their No. 1 goalie is playing like a No. 1 goalie late in the season.
Young Dallas defenseman Stephen Johns had his pockets picked by David Backes at the Dallas blue line in the first period, and that led to Boston’s first goal of the game in the first period. Then Johns was also on ice as a penalty killer in the second period when Torey Krug snuck in for the backdoor power play goal, and that was about it for Johns on the ice. Johns finished with 9:59 of ice time and a minus-1 rating, and is in the tough situation of being a young defenseman trying to develop with a head coach in Lindy Ruff that’s employing a fairly quick hook.
The Bruins could have buckled in the third period when Kevan Miller was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking call that sent Curtis McKenzie to the hospital, but instead they held strong protecting a two-goal lead. The B’s penalty killers allowed just two shots on net to an explosive Dallas bunch during the four minutes of special teams’ time late in the third period, and Tuukka Rask was up to the challenge while shutting things down between the pipes. That finished Boston as a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, and snuffed out any last gasp chance that the Stars had to get into a game where the Bruins were only leading by a couple of goals.
Brad Marchand scored the game’s first goal, had two points in a 2-0 win and now has a career-high 38 goals this season. He still has a chance at both 40 goals and 85 points in the best season of his NHL career. Marchand scored by hanging around the front of the net and simply throwing a puck at Antti Niemi as he flailed around the crease, and then picked up the secondary assist on Torey Krug’s power play goal. Marchand finished with a goal, two points, a plus-1 rating and one shot on net along with three takeaways in 19:15 of ice time while playing responsible, smart hockey for the B’s.
BY THE NUMBERS:
9 – the number of game-high hits for fourth liner Noel Acciari, including a massive blast on Dallas defenseman Julius Honka late in the third period that put the exclamation point on Boston’s victory.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
“The last three [games] I think have been real determined, doing whatever it takes to keep pucks out of our scoring area.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the last three wins where the Bruins have locked down defensively on the Islanders, Predators and Stars.