BOSTON (CBS) – The Russians’ dream of winning Olympic Gold on home ice in Sochi were dashed this morning, thanks in large part to Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask. The Finnish netminder stopped 37 shots in the 3-1 quarterfinal win, including 14 during the feverish Russian third-period assault.
Rask had a number of highlight reel saves on the evening, and stopped Russian snipers Alexander Radulov and Alexander Semin four times each. His most impressive stop may have come against Semin, as he stacked the pads to deny the winger a second-period breakaway opportunity.
Tuukka Rask w/the diving, athletic save coming way out of the net to bust up an Alex Semin breakaway. He's locked in along w/rest of Finns— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) February 19, 2014
The goaltender held NHL goal-scoring leader Alexander Ovechkin pointless in front of his hometown crowd of 11,654. Rask also continued his dominance of Pittsburgh Penguin Evgeni Malkin, robbing him on a third period wrist shot that would have brought the Russians back within one. Bruins fans will be quick to remember Rask’s sterling performance against the league’s most prolific offense in last season’s four-game sweep of Malkin’s Penguins.
This game marked a continued improvement for Rask between the pipes in the Olympics after a shaky start to the 2014 games. He surrendered 4 goals on 20 shots against an inferior Austrian squad in Finland’s opening game victory, and was benched for Kari Lehtonen for the next game. However, he got the start in Finland’s overtime loss to Canada and performed well, stopping 25 of 27. It seemed as if he built upon that, as today’s start was his best of the tournament.
The lone blemish came at 7:51 of the first period, when he was beaten by ex-million dollar man Ilya Kovalchuk on Russia’s seemingly lethal power play, but Rask shut the door the rest of the way. He was automatic for the game’s final 52:09, and held the fort on the next two Russian man-advantages.
It’s also worth noting that Rask isn’t the only Bruin playing well at this stage of the competition. Patrice Bergeron was recently promoted to Canada’s top line to play wing alongside the highly-skilled Sidney Crosby. Loui Eriksson also seems to be finding his game with Sweden, as he notched a goal and an assist in his country’s most recent win.
Rask’s next start could come against Eriksson’s Swedes in a semifinal game on Friday. It’s safe to say that many Americans will be rooting for him and his Finnish comrades to knock off Team Sweden, who are a perfect 4-0 in the tournament thus far.
Chris Mason is an Intern with 98.5 The SportsHub
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