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Kalman: Tuukka Rask With Something To Prove After Mental Lapses In Game 4

by Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
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Tuukka Rask (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Tuukka Rask (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — Tuukka Rask has had his share of “YouTube sensation” moments throughout his career.

Most recently, he slammed his stick against the boards after a shootout loss in the regular season, and the recoil effect planted him on his rear end before he could step through the bench door.

He’s typically able to laugh along with the rest of us who witness his gaffes, especially when they only come after the Bruins missed out on one point in the standings. Now that a couple of miscues cost the Bruins a playoff game, it’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins’ goaltender responds.

Rask finished Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday with 28 saves on 32 shots. But a physical error and a mental error that led to the New York Rangers’ first two goals helped extend this series in a 4-3 Rangers overtime win.

The first gaffe was somewhat excusable. Rask lost his footing and was unable to recover from his seat-plant to stop Carl Hagelin’s shot after it skidded off Johnny Boychuk’s stick. The goal cut the Bruins’ lead to 2-1 and gave the Rangers, and Madison Square Garden, previously non-existent life.

However, it was the error he made along with Zdeno Chara that really made you wonder if Rask was begging to add a little drama to this series. Physical errors happen and you accept them. Mental errors, when the stakes are so high, are inexcusable.

With the Bruins protecting a 2-1 lead early in the third, Rask played the puck to Chara behind the Boston goal. Chara, who earlier in the game had a blind pass below the goal line intercepted by Derek Stepan (who set up a Ryan McDonagh shot from the slot that Rask stopped) again lost the puck to Stepan.

This time, Stepan kept the puck and stuffed it in while Rask was out of position and getting back into his crease as though he was taking a stroll through Boston Common.

The Bruins regained the lead and lost it again en route to the loss. They could’ve fallen even earlier had Rask not regained his form and made some brilliant stops, including a shoulder stop of Brian Boyle not too long after the Rangers center’s game-tying goal. Rask also denied a couple of point-blank saves on Rick Nash early in overtime.

Those plays came without time to stew over the mistakes. Now Game 5 is Saturday night at TD Garden. Rask’s fall on the Hagelin goal and screw-up with Chara on the Stepan goal are going to be on all the highlight shows. They’re going to be talked about in the dressing room, on the radio and on every street in Boston. Those discussions will be piled on top of more talk about the Bruins’ inability to close out series and the eerie resemblance Game 4 in 2013 had to Game 4 in 2010, when Simon Gagne started Philadelphia’s historic comeback with an overtime goal.

Rask thinks he’s a money goaltender and so do most observers. After stealing defeat from the jaws of victory, a money goaltender would bounce back and be impenetrable in Game 5. We’ll see if Rask can live up to that moniker.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.

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