By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — With a sterling 31-save showing in a Boston victory in Game 4 against Toronto, Tuukka Rask was the No. 1 story for the Bruins heading into Game 5. Coming out of that Game 5, Rask was once again the top story — though not at all for the reasons he would have hoped.
Midway through the second period, after allowing a fourth goal on just the 13th Toronto shot on net, Rask was pulled from Saturday night’s game at the TD Garden. On skated Anton Khudobin (who would stop all eight shots sent his way), but the Bruins would end up losing 4-3.
It was the first time in Rask’s 58 career postseason starts that he’s been pulled from a game.
“Summary? [Laughs] Umm … I probably could’ve stopped more pucks with my eyes closed. That’s about it,” Rask said after the loss. “It’s on me, but moving on to the next one. Try to finish it off in Toronto.”
Rask admitted that “sometimes you track pucks better than the other days,” and that on this particular night, he didn’t quite have it.
“I didn’t have too many shots out there. Just one of those [nights where] you’re fighting it,” Rask said. “Those first two goals were nothing to do with tracking, but, you know, just never got into the game really and couldn’t make those stops that I should’ve made to keep the game tight, especially that third goal. We scored [to cut Toronto’s lead to 2-1], we had the momentum going, and then they get a chance and I couldn’t stop the puck. Those are the tough ones. As I said, it happens.”
As is the case with many bad nights of results for goaltenders in the NHL, the goals allowed were not all indicative of a disastrous night for Rask. The first goal was batted out of mid-air by Connor Brown, after Auston Matthews’ wraparound bid was deflected by a tumbling Torey Krug. The second goal involved Andreas Johnsson sneaking behind Charlie McAvoy to accept a perfect feed from Nazem Kadri. Johnsson received the pass on his tape with a full head of steam and skated past Rask before depositing a backhand.
The hole had been dug for Boston, but the Bruins did their best to climb out. David Backes benefited from a fortuitous bounce off the glass to score his second goal of the postseason near the midway point of the second period to energize the home crowd. But just 45 seconds later, Tyler Bozak eluded McAvoy and received a cross-ice pass from Morgan Rielly to get a point-blank bid on Rask. Bozak beat Rask between his left pad and glove, stealing back for Toronto any momentum that had been lost on Backes’ goal.
And though James van Riemsdyk standing all alone at the goalmouth with enough time to roof a shot on Rask a minute-and-a-half later was not the result of goaltender error, it nevertheless ended the night for Rask.
“I think a lot of coaches would’ve made the same decision,” Rask said.
Rask did stop William Nylander in all alone on a Grade A scoring chance in the opening minutes of the second period, but ultimately it was a night that will be remembered for the goaltender’s final line: Four goals allowed, and an early exit.
Though the feeling of being the first Bruins goaltender to be pulled from a playoff game since 1995 was not preferred, Rask said he remains on an even keel no matter the circumstances.
“You play good, you kind of put it behind you. You play bad, you put it behind you,” Rask said. “Just stay even, no matter what happens. It’s hockey. Sometimes you’re awesome, and sometimes you’re not.”
The series now heads back to Toronto on Monday night for Game 6, with the Bruins leading 3-2. As for what he’ll need to do before Monday night to bring about a different result?
“Just go home, sleep, eat, travel to Toronto, get some work done,” Rask said. “That’s about it.”