BOSTON – It wasn’t a spectacular, stand-on-his-head performance from Tuukka Rask on Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But it didn't have to be.
Rask simply made the key save at the vital part of the game and played well when called upon in making 19 stopsin Boston’s 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. He's struggled pretty much all season, but made the clutch stop at the important time in the game.
Certainly it was the kind of winning performance that the Bruins require out of both goalies, but weren’t getting anything close to out of their No. 1 (Rask) this season.
“He’s a goalie, he’s a pro, and he’s a competitor," said coach Bruce Cassidy. "I think at some point as a goalie, you need wins. Was this the time? Probably. There’s a lot of chatter lately. So for him to step up and get it done, and for us to play well in front of him – not have to stand on his head, that’s the other thing. . . . I think he’s going to feel good about it and sleep well tonight.”
While it’s pretty clear the pressure was squarely on Rask headed into the start against the NHL’s most explosive offense, the Finnish netminder brushed a lot of those notions off after the game like they were Tampa testing shots from the outside. Instead he saved his best on a side-to-side kicking leg pad save on a Nikita Kucherov bid in the final 30 seconds of the second period, and also had the good fortune of a Tyler Johnson net drive harmlessly bounce off the far post at a precarious time in the game.
Rask gave up a couple of goals, but talso seemed to have a unique ability to step right back into his role.
“I needed it. I need [the wins]. It was good to see, there was a post-and-out today. That’s always a positive,” said Rask. “So enjoy the little things I guess, because you know, so many times [the second period scoring shot] hits my heel and goes in, and today it didn’t.
“Well those are the saves the people expect you to make, and you talk about after the game that, you should have saved that and keep the lead,’ and now you talk that it was a timely save. So it’s something that you always do, you want to do, and you try to do, and hopefully more often than not you actually save those.”
On Wednesday night, Rask made those timely saves against the mighty Lightning, and is simply hoping to be able to extend a winning streak.