Tuukka Rask’s Subtle Stops Lead To Netminder’s Fourth Career Playoff Shutout
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BOSTON (CBS) — By every possible measure, the Bruins dominated the Red Wings in Tuesday night’s Game 3. The Bruins controlled the puck for most of the night, leading to more shots and scoring chances in the Detroit end of the ice.
As a result, much of the attention might be paid in places other than the Boston crease. Yet the efforts of Tuukka Rask in the 3-0 Bruins victory should not go unnoticed.
Rask earned a shutout, his fourth in 38 career playoff starts, to help give the Bruins a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings.
Rask made just 23 saves on the night, but there were a number of key stops, especially in the third period, that prevented the tides from turning against Boston.
Some were subtle, others were not.
One in the latter category came in the opening minutes of the third period, when Justin Abdelkader thought he was looking at an empty net. When Abdelkader tried to fire the puck into the net to cut the Bruins’ lead in half, a white flash of Rask’s glove got in the way.
The save, made as Rask was falling to his left, was one akin to the Tim Thomas days, and in this case, it prevented a deflated Joe Louis Arena from finding new life.
Rask didn’t make much of the save in his postgame comments, as is his style. But it was another save later in the third period that didn’t draw any questions from reporters, likely because Rask made it look so easy that it didn’t so much as lead to a television replay.
With the Detroit net empty and the extra attacker on the ice, Pavel Datsyuk worked his usual magic to find space in the offensive end before skating through the bottom of the faceoff circle sending a backhand shot toward the left post.
The shot looked destined to creep inside that post and give the Red Wings a chance to tie the game in the final minutes. Instead, Rask saw through a sea of legs and bodies and was able to hold the post and kick aside the would-be Detroit goal.
The save may not have stood out amid the chaos of playoff hockey, but The Goalie Guild took notice and posted the video to Vine:
Fifteen seconds later, Patrice Bergeron sent a 150-foot shot into the open net to seal the victory.
While the final score said the Bruins dominated the Red Wings, head coach Claude Julien was quick to point out after the win that if not for a key save or two, it’s a whole different story.
“It hasn’t been easy. Let’s not kid ourselves here,” Julien said of his team’s 2-1 series lead. “The games have been tight, our goaltender has made some good saves at opportune times, and we’ve been fortunate enough in the last couple of games to get ourselves to a decent lead. But that can change on any given night, so I’m certainly not going to talk about a comfortable situation, because until you win that fourth game, it never is.”
In a game that saw Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron both score their first NHL postseason goals and will be remembered more for the Red Wings’ failure to really show up for their first home playoff game, Rask won’t steal many headlines. And considering he was the recipient of the Old-Time Hockey jacket as the locker room-appointed player of the game on Sunday, he won’t even soak in the attention behind closed doors.
Yet as long as he remains locked in with the laser focus he’s shown in this series (he’s stopped 80 of 82 shots on net), those wins will continue to come for the Bruins. The headlines are sure to follow.
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