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Rask is unflappable in his first NHL playoff game

Friday, 04.16.2010 / 9:46 AM ET / Features
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Rask is unflappable in his first NHL playoff game
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Maybe Tuukka Rask is as unflappable as his teammates believe him to be.

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The Bruins' rookie goalie turned in a more-than-respectable performance in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, despite the fact that he took the loss in Buffalo's 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

Rask, just 23, virtually matched the more experienced Ryan Miller in his first experience with playoff hockey, a setting that has gotten the better of more than one goalie who put together a headlining campaign in the regular season.

Rask finished with 30 saves in the game and never seemed fazed by his surroundings. The sellout crowd at HSBC Arena was out for Boston blood Thursday night -- and, if they couldn't get it from Public Enemy No. 1, Zdeno Chara, they were happy to try to get it from the boyish-looking Finn in the Boston crease.

Taunting chants of "Tuukka, Tuukka," rained down to him as often as Buffalo players crashed into his crease.

Yet Rask barely blinked at all the hubbub around him as he analyzed the game.

"It was good (atmosphere), but Montreal is like that every game, so it is no different than that," Rask said.

The scary thing is that Rask seems to buy what he was peddling Thursday night.

Chara was sitting catty-corner to Rask in the Bruins' dressing room after the game, looking in the direction of his rookie goalie as he calmly held court and analyzed his game. He has come to expect such grace under pressure from a youngster who somehow stole away the starting job from Tim Thomas, the reigning holder of the Vezina Trophy.

"He's a very clam and steady goaltender," Chara said. "For his age and for a goalie that doesn't have as many years in the League, he's playing extremely well for us."
Thursday night, he could be excused on both goals.

On the first, Thomas Vanek, one of the game's elite snipers, made a brilliant individual play to fire a laser past Rask on an odd-man rush spearheaded by Derek Roy. It was, simply, a goal-scorer's goal.

Yet, Rask was having none of it.

"He made a good shot, but that's something that if I am in the right position, I probably have that," Rask said.

What about the game-winner in the second, off the stick of unlikely hero Craig Rivet, a defenseman who had just one goal in the regular season and only three in 63 postseason games entering Thursday night?

"It was a good shot by (Rivet)," said Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who partially screened Rask by allowing Patrick Kaleta to take him to the net. "Tuukka couldn't see anything. You can't really blame him on that one."

If Rask plays every playoff game like he did Thursday's, Boston feels like it will have a fighting chance in this series.

"When you look at the saves he made at the end when we were trying to stay in it and trying to tie the game up, he made some huge saves and gave us a chance," Boston coach Claude Julien said . "I thought he was really good for us tonight."

Rask, though, believes he can be even better in Saturday's Game 2.

Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor

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ATLANTIC DIVISION
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
2 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
3 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
4 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
5 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
6 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
7 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
8 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
P. Bergeron 54 21 26 10 47
L. Eriksson 54 17 25 11 42
B. Marchand 49 26 14 14 40
D. Krejci 44 12 28 2 40
R. Spooner 54 11 27 -7 38
Z. Chara 52 7 22 11 29
M. Beleskey 52 8 18 9 26
J. Hayes 52 12 13 -7 25
T. Krug 53 3 21 2 24
B. Connolly 51 7 12 -3 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
T. Rask 20 16 5 .917 2.55
J. Gustavsson 9 3 1 .911 2.58
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