BOSTON – While the Bruins defense has undoubtedly stiffened since the trade deadline when it comes to allowing quality scoring chances, their goalies have been a large part of the successful equation as well. Tuukka Rask proved that winning B’s formula true again on Saturday afternoon while stopping 25-of-26 shots in their 3-1 win over the Islanders TD Garden.
There were periods during the game where the lifting was light for Rask. But he was on point, making 11 saves in a second period where the Isles started making a heavy push. He was aided by the Islanders hitting a couple of posts early in the second, but Rask was at his best in the closing minutes of the period, making a combination 1-2 save on John Tavares and Josh Bailey after a Zdeno Chara turnover at the other end.
“There was an odd man rush, and I think whoever the D was there did a very good job of keeping the man on the outside. It was a pretty good shot for a rebound and luckily the rebound was right in front of me, I was able to scramble in front of the second puck and then we cleared it,” said Rask. “It was just one of those you never really want to get scored on in the last minute, and we have in the past. It’s a good example when you don’t you might get another opportunity, and we did.”
That opportunity arrived seconds later with David Krejci wheeling around the offensive zone, and dishing to a wide open David Pastrnak for the game-winning strike with just nine seconds remaining in the second period. The swing of momentum essentially decided the game in favor of Boston, and showed just how important Rask was despite an average-sounding 25 saves during the win over the Islanders.
“[Rask] keeps us in there and then we are able to create a lead there, and that was probably important for our team. Tuukka was solid when he had to be,” said Claude Julien. “We did a good job in the first of minimizing their shots. In the second period again we got a little loose and gave them some good chances, but Tuukka was up to the task there and did a good job.”
Rask is now 4-0-2 with a .930 save percentage, and an all-important 5-on-5 save percentage of .940, since the NHL trade deadline, and has been doing a good job for weeks predating the deadline while upping his level of play along with the rest of the team during their recent run.