BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask has had a sterling year for the Bruins, and he's been in plenty of Vezina Trophy conversations as the 48-game shortened regular season heads to a close. The Finnish goalie has always been accountable and willing to accept the blame if he lets in a soft goal, or is one of the chief reasons that the Black and Gold don’t come away with a victory.
That was the case after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins as Rask was accepting the responsibility after the game ended. The B’s offense was also guilty of negligence in defeat as they could only put two goals past Tomas Vokoun, but Rask only stopped 21 of the 24 shots that he faced in the game.
The long shot from the high point that Jarome Iginla managed to tuck in between Tuukka Rask’s leg pads through heavy traffic in front of the net was the go-ahead, power-play score for Pittsburgh in the third period. It was also one that Rask would have -- and should have -- stopped on a better day.
“It was five-hole, I guess, so it’s my bad,” admitted Rask. “No question about that . . . so not too often I cost a game. Today I did. That’s just how it is sometimes.
“We had the motion, we had hits, a couple scraps out there, so, you know, it just didn’t get rewarded. It sucks. But I think we’ve got to get the good things out of this and move on. Hopefully I’m better next game.”
They’ve now dropped to second in the NHL with an 87.8 percent success rate in the penalty kill, and have allowed a staggering six power play goals in their last three games after topping the NHL’s PK units nearly wire-to-wire this season. While some of the onus lies with the PK skaters, Claude Julien was quick to point out that the goaltender often has to be the team’s best penalty killer.
“You’re not going to point a finger, but your goaltender’s got to make some saves, too, at the right time. He’s got to make some of those saves. The [Iginla] goal was in the five-hole, right between his legs, and he knows that he’s got to have those,” said Julien. “I’m not just pointing at him, but he’s got to be better. Your power play, a lot of times, is as good as your goaltending. I thought we did a better job today of getting pucks out of our own end than we did the other night. Everything has to fall in place for your penalty kill to be good. We needed some timely saves.”
Judging by the 17-9-4 record along with the 2.02 goals against average and .927 save percentage, Rask will be better his next time out and ready to stand strong behind a Bruins team now intent on imposing their will.