Tuukka Rask doesn’t think too much about the playoff collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers three years ago.
But it was interesting that the 25-year-old Finnish goaltender hadn’t faced the Flyers since the Bruins blew a three-goal lead against Philadelphia in Game 7 on Garden ice three years ago. That was until Saturday afternoon when Rask suited up against the Flyers and grounded them while making 23 saves en route to a 3-0 shutout victory for the Bruins at TD Garden.
It was a performance that the Bruins netminder said was “the best defensive game [the Bruins] have played so far this year.”
Rask was aware he hadn’t played against the Flyers in three years because Tim Thomas usually owned Philadelphia, and Claude Julien opted for the favorable match-up against his Vezina Trophy winner. But there was no extra level of satisfaction for Rask or the Bruins.
After all they won the Cup in the ensuing years, and Rask believes that might have never happened had it not been for that gut punch series against the Flyers when they blew a 3-0 lead in the series and a 3-0 lead in Game 7.
There’s also been plenty of turnover in the Philadelphia franchise, so most of those old enemies are long gone from Broad Street. But then again Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and Simon Gagne are still around, and were hoping to haunt Rask one more time.
“It’s not something I really thought about going into today. That’s kind of ancient history when you’ve won a Stanley Cup,” said Rask. “But it was terrible…just a bad loss for us. But then again we might not have come back and won the Cup the following year if we didn’t go through something like that. That’s the way I’ve always kind of looked at it anyway.
“Things happen in hockey and for a goalie if you start thinking that certain match-ups are better for you than the others then you’re lost half the battle. It was just a game like any other.”
The three years have also made Rask an entirely different, more mature goaltender, and that was readily apparent as Saturday’s game went on. The Bruins built up a 3-0 lead and Rask saw only 12 shots in the first two periods thanks to a staunch defense in front of him, but things got a little trickier in the third period. The Flyers had a couple of power plays and Philly fired 11 shots on Rask, but he held strong in the final 20 minutes to preserve the victory.
“I think our PK [penalty kill] was doing a good job killing those penalties. It really helped everybody out, especially Tuukka [Rask] playing the way he did again,” said Johnny Boychuk. “He was very aware of what was going on around him, and he made those key stops again.”
The glove save on a Jakub Voracek point shot that was deflected on the way to the Boston net stood above the rest, but it was more about Rask standing tall as the Flyers prolonged possession in the attack zone. He even had a little help from Tyler Seguin, who stood in front of the net to stop a puck when the action around the displaced Rask from his normal position in front of the cage.
“Oh that was Tyler [Seguin]? Yeah, I thought it was Dougie [Hamilton]. Okay. Yeah, it was great,” said Rask. “It’s good to see he’s got my back and he’s got those goalie skills too…it’s good to see. You’ve got to keep it exciting right?”
Things had been getting a little two exciting for Rask and the Bruins in the third periods of games, but that trend appears over now after a resounding win over a reeling Flyers club. It certainly suits Rask just fine to look at his career ledger and see a ‘W’ next to his last game against Philadelphia rather than the ‘L’ that had been hanging there for three long years.