BOSTON -- The last time Tuukka Rask was a No. 1 goaltender in the playoffs, in 2010, he blew a 3-0, second-round series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers.
In order for that to not happen again, Rask will have to play like he did on Thursday against the Lightning.
Rask made 30 saves and picked up his fifth shutout of the season as Boston blanked Tampa Bay, 2-0. And as Shawn Thornton put it after the win, Rask "stood on his head."
"A goaltender plays a big role in your success," coach Claude Julien said afterwards. "And in a game like tonight, if we don't have good goaltending, then the minute you get a breakdown, the puck will be in the back of your net. So you need a guy to stand tall and be good. And you need a guy to go into the playoffs with confidence, and hopefully that's what Tuukka's creating here."
The B's won't make a serious playoff run unless their goaltender is at his very best. That's where Rask seems to be now, after his second shutout in his last two starts.
"It's probably up there," Rask replied when asked if it was his best game of the season. "Any time you get a shutout, you didn't make a mistake. So I guess it's a mistake-free game."
Nobody will play "mistake-free" hockey in the playoffs. But usually, the team that makes the least amount of mistakes in the postseason will be battling for a Stanley Cup. And usually, the team with the best goaltender will prevail.
So does it matter to Rask if he enters the playoffs playing solid hockey?
"I guess you always try to take the positives, no matter how it goes," he said. "But the playoffs is a different season. Everybody knows that. I just try to feel comfortable out there and play the game one at a time.
"It's been a pretty hectic schedule," Rask later added. "The weather's getting nice out there, and it's the best time of a hockey player's life."
It can be even better if Rask plays like he did against the Lightning on Thursday. Because that will ultimately be the only way the Bruins win it all.