Rask has upper hand on Lundqvist after three games

Rask has upper hand on Lundqvist after three games
May 22, 2013, 11:00 am
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(USA Today Sports Images)

NEW YORK -- Tuukka Rask wasn’t flashy with his glove hand in Game 3. Not many of his saves were of the highlight-reel variety. And he was helped by a stalwart Boston Bruins defense that kept Rangers shooters on the perimeter.

Still, the Bruins got a 2-1 victory over the Rangers in Game 3 when New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist appeared to be at the top of his game.

Rask saw what everybody else did on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, and that was the reigning Vezina Trophy winner putting on a show while playing up to his lofty reputation. Lundqvist finished with 32 saves against a Bruins team that was getting breakaways and point blank chances from a mystifyingly bad Rangers defense. It was pretty clear King Henrik was feeling the flow, and shut down breakaways from Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin in the first period while stoning Jaromir Jagr on a chance in front as well.

But it was “game on” between the two goaltenders, as Claude Julien said on Tuesday morning, and Rask was just a little better holding things down to give Boston a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Finnish netminder is now 3-0 with a 1.67 goals against average and .948 save percentage while stopping 91 of the 96 shots he’s faced in the series against the Rangers.

“It’s a great character win. We felt like we played a great game today,” said Rask. “That was the best defensive game [from the Bruins] in a long time. They had a couple tips and a couple of plays from behind the net, but there was really nothing crazy [from the Rangers offense].

“I’m just trying to stay calm, not get too excited and just wait for the shot, so I can make a play on it when it comes.”

Rask wasn’t quite as chill after the game when a New York reporter kept bumping into his iPod, which was playing music in the Bruins dressing room, but he made the save there as well moving the sound system away to a safer spot.

His best two stops of the third period were on Rangers scorer Rick Nash as he powered his way into the offensive zone, but Rask was able to kick them away with little traffic or extra attackers clawing at the rebounds in front of the net. His 23 saves in the victory didn’t much Lundqvist, who had 32, but his 3-0 record against the more Swedish goalie is all the evidence anybody should need that the 26-year-old Finn is winning the battle between the pipes.

“He’s one of the best goalies in the league. He did a great job for us,” said Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. “We knew going into the series that Henrik Lundqvist was going to play great for them, and Tuukka has been just as good for us.”

The .930 save percentage, the 2.19 goals against average and, most importantly, the seven playoff wins are exactly the kind of postseason numbers everybody was looking for out of Rask. Now he stands just one win away from sending the NHL’s best goaltender, and the rest of his Rangers teammates, packing for the summer.