By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There are bad goals, there are bad games, and then there’s whatever you want to call the night Tuukka Rask had on Tuesday against the New York Islanders.
Rask allowed three goals on just 13 shots to the Islanders, two of them of the unforgivingly brutal variety. The first goal came on an embarrassing miscue by Rask and Brad Marchand, who collided behind the net in an attempt to transfer the puck. Islanders forward Anders Lee stole the loose puck after the collision and easily tucked it into the open net.
The second goal, while not necessarily Rask’s fault, could have been an opportunity for the goalie to bail out his teammates. An ill-advised pinch-in by Patrice Bergeron led to a quick breakout for the Islanders and Zdeno Chara all alone against a 3-on-1 rush. Thomas Hickey carried the puck in and fired a clean wrister past Rask for the 2-0 lead.
The third goal got Rask pulled, and it was much deserved. The Islanders dumped the puck into the corner, where it bounced back toward the net. Rask wasn’t hugging the post enough with his pad and appeared to be unaware that the puck was rolling toward him in the first place. Nikolay Kulemin tapped the puck past his pad for the 3-0 lead and the end of the night for Rask.
The goalie described the third goal as wishing a “Merry Christmas” for the Islanders, who were out-shot 50-29 on the night and won on the strength of their own goalie Thomas Greiss’ 48 saves. He called head coach Claude Julien’s decision to pull him after the third goal “the only reasonable thing to do as a coach.”
He did his best to describe what happened on the mishap between himself and Marchand, who did not take the defenseman’s usual behind-the-net route of going behind the goalie and hugging the boards.
“I stopped the puck, then I turned around,” said Rask. “I saw [Marchand] flying in and we were on the same rails. That’s about it. Usually, it’s not a forward who comes in to grab it. We both kind of caught ourselves surprised in that situation. I had my regular route there, hugging the net, and he just happened to hit me. Just a weird coincidence.”
Julien was not happy about Rask’s off night, but felt the rest of the team owed him a better effort than what they gave.
“Tuukka had a bit of an off night, but the amount of times that he’s bailed us out, the least we could have done was bail him out tonight,” said Julien. “We couldn’t do that.”
Rask has a 2.51 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in eight December games. The Bruins are 4-2-2 in that span. As bad as Rask’s game was on Tuesday, it speaks to his value to the team. Although Rask has mostly been excellent this season, he had a bad night on Tuesday – and as he has gone, so have the Bruins.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.