Tuukka Rask bounces back for fourth shutout of the season against Florida
Tuukka Rask would say he cost the Bruins a game. But after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden, Rask felt that he let his team down.
“It’s not too often I cost a game, and today I did I think,” Rask said after Saturday’s loss. “That’s how it is sometimes for a goalie, and [you’ve] got to move on.”
On Sunday, in the B's 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers, that’s exactly what Rask did. He stopped all 28 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season and the 15th of his career. It was also Rask’s third career shutout against Florida.
It was the first time this season Rask or Anton Khudobin had played back-to-back games, and with the B’s in the midst of a stretch of six games in nine days to end the regular season, some thought Khudobin may get the start. But B’s Head Coach Claude Julien was impressed with the way his number one goalie owned up to his performance and felt he deserved to battle back.
“I just thought that after [Saturday] night, especially, he stood tall and said, ‘listen, I should have had a couple of goals,’” said Julien after Sunday’s win. “I thought it was important for me to put him back in and say, ‘here’s an opportunity to go out and battle back. The quicker the better.’
“He responded well. I texted him right after the game last night and said, ‘you’re back in there tomorrow.’ I was glad to see that he played extremely well and it shows you a lot about his character.”
Rask improved his record to 18-9-4 and now has a 1.96 goals against average and .929 save percentage on the season.
“Good to get back in the win column there,” he said. “It was a pretty good game from us, so it’s a good thing to build on that.”
Being able to get a win in front of the home crowd was important for Rask and the Bruins, especially after they weren’t able to come out on top in emotional games on Wednesday and Saturday following the tragedy at the Boston Marathon earlier this week.
“I mean, that first game against the Buffalo it was really emotional, we played a great game and just felt like we let the city down a bit in not being able to get that win and then even yesterday,” said Rask, who in the postgame "Shirts Off Their Backs" ceremony gave his jersey to Cambridge Police Officer Peter Vellucci.
“It’s another opportunity, but I think things have kind of settled down now and people are trying to get back to normal lives. So, it’s time to play hockey for us.”
Rask was glad to get an opportunity to start back-to-back games and try to rebound from his tough game on Saturday.
“I wanted to [start]. I mean, I had a week off there from games, even practice days for the most part, so it was good to get that feeling back. I did kind of find my rhythm again and build on that,” he said.
“It happens sometimes and you’ve got to shake it off and bounce back and I’m happy that I was able to do that today. The schedule is crazy all the way until the end, so we can’t be feeling sorry for yourself after a bad game.
“You’ve just got to shake it off and go strap them on again and go at it.”
Patrice Bergeron said after the game that the team was able to feed off of Rask and the big saves he was making throughout the game. The B’s alternate captain also praised Rask’s ability to bounce back.
“Tuukka’s got a lot of character, and he’s played well all year for us, and today was a perfect example,” said Bergeron, who notched his 22nd assist of the season on Brad Marchand’s empty-net goal late in the third.
“He made some huge saves. Even in the first early on he made some great pad saves on the rebound, and when you see a play like that it gives us energy to keep going to play in front of him the way we should.
“And it was great to see his performance this afternoon.”