BOSTON - He was just named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL's best goaltender, and on Saturday afternoon Tuukka Rask once again showed why.
Rask saved 31 of Detroit's 33 shots in the Bruins' 4-2 series-clinching win over the Red Wings, including an onslaught of shots in the third period as the Wings tried to come back from a 3-1 defect.
But as the Wings gave it their all in the third, Rask turned them aside - all but one, anyways, as Henrik Zetterberg banged home a rebound off Justin Abdelkader to pull the Wings within one with under four minutes to play.
But that would be the only real blemish in a period that had Bruins fans on the edges of their seats, and Rask on his head.
For the series, Rask finished with .961 save percentage and a 1.16 goals against average.
It was classic, soft-spoken Rask after the game who didn't seem to be shaken or rattled at any point in the game - or series, for that matter.
Pretty good," he said when asked his thoughts on his own play on Saturday. "Only two goals. [They] didn’t really have a chance."
Leave it to Rask to credit the guys out in front of him who make his job that much easier.
"Yeah we played good," he said. "We played great in the first period. They had a couple scoring chances, but that was it. Then the second period penalties both ways, kind of phantom calls there and that kind of breaks the rhythm for everybody and then they kind of took the momentum and in the third. It’s a 3-1 game for us so obviously they’re going to throw everything they’ve got at us and then they get the 3-2 goal but then we push back."
The Wings never got a shot on net for the remainder of the period after they scored their second goal. Boston blocked two shot attempts, and Jarome Iginla buried the empty-netter with 16 seconds remaining in the game.
"It’s not fun," Rask said of the final two minutes of a game like this one, "but you just hope that your guys get the empty netter, you know, because a lot of times the other team gets shots from the point. They come through and you never see them and then it’s a scramble in front of the net. Anything can happen, so it’s really not fun and you just hope that your team will get that goal."
It didn't help matters that the Bruins were on the penalty kill seven times in this game. As they were a man down early in the third period, Rask made a big kick save on Tomas Tatar to preserve the 2-1 lead. The Wings had problem scoring on the power play all series, finishing just 2-for-20 on the man advantage.
"The penalty kill is huge for us," Torey Krug said. "Anytime you have a goalie like Tuukka in there, your penalty kill is going to be very strong."
Shortly after Rask's save, Milan Lucic scored what would become the game-winning goal to put the B's up 3-1.