BOSTON (CBS) — It didn’t matter what the Columbus Blue Jackets threw at Tuukka Rask on Monday night. The Bruins goaltender turned away anything and everything they sent his way in Boston’s series-clinching Game 6 victory, posting his sixth career shutout in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Rask stopped all 39 shots he saw in Monday night’s 3-0 victory, adding another chapter in a phenomenal postseason run for the Boston goaltender. The Blue Jackets crashed the net several times in hopes of keeping their season alive, trying their best to actually put a dent or two on Rask. He turned them away each time, and as the pressure mounted, he got even better.
In his six games against Columbus, Rask posted a .948 save percentage and allowed just 1.71 goals per game. His dominant play in net has the Bruins off to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2013.
“He was definitely our most consistent player throughout the whole series,” Boston head coach Bruce Cassidy said of his netminder. “He was there every night. He certainly deserves whatever accolades come to him. Proud of him.”
“Outstanding,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said of Rask, adding that the goalie was Boston’s best player in the series. “He was the stone at the back end that we rely on every night, and he deserves a lot of credit for the performance he put in those six games.”
Rask’s haters — and there are still many of them — have all gone silent this postseason. Asked if he’s playing the best hockey of his career during this current stretch, Rask didn’t want to play analyst. But it certainly feels good to be playing so well at the most important time of the year.
“Better than sucking I guess,” said Rask.
It was just last postseason when it looked like Rask was close to snapping on the ice on a handful of occasions. This year, he’s been a cool customer between the pipes, keeping Boston’s opponents to two goals or less in eight of their 13 games.
“You could tell this whole playoff he’s been in a real good place,” said Cassidy. “Consistent. Solid. No issues. He doesn’t seem to be bothered by anything. He really seems to be in his own zone right now where he’s just going to go out and stop the puck. He’s not worried about all the banging in the crease or goals disallowed, any of that stuff. He’s done a terrific job for us in that regard. Hope it continues.”
Rask pointed to the defense in front of him as a big reason he’s had so much success this postseason.
“You play enough in this league — regular season, playoffs — you gain that experience and you learn to think it’s not all about you, you don’t have to do anything spectacular. It’s a team sport and you play for each other,” said Rask. “That’s helped me a lot.”
Rask is playing the best hockey of his career, and it’s a big reason the Bruins are in the hunt for the Cup. He’ll now try to shut down the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line.