Rask outplaying Reimer after three games

Rask outplaying Reimer after three games
May 7, 2013, 2:15 am
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TORONTO – In the battle of goaltenders in the Bruins/Leafs series, Tuukka Rask is pretty clearly getting the upper hand against young Toronto Maple Leafs puck-stopper James Reimer.

Rask made 17 saves during a frantic third period as the desperate Toronto bunch threw everything at the Boston net, and the Bruins defense collapsed into a funk where they couldn’t consistently get the puck out of their zone. In total Rask made 45 saves in Boston’s 5-2 victory over Toronto in Game 3 at the Air Canada Centre, and has put up a .929 save percentage in the three games played in the best-of-seven series.

“I just try to stay calm and well positioned all the time. I thought I did a good job of that today,” said Rask. “Sometimes when teams create a lot of traffic and cross-ice passes, you tend to get over-aggressive and that can throw you off your game.

“But I just tried to stay calm even though they were coming at us in the third.”

While the third period was clearly Rask standing on his head with a two-goal cushion, he might have been at his best in the second period when he turned away a Joffrey Lupul shot from the right wing off a dish from Phil Kessel – and then stoned Tyler Bozak when he had the puck on the doorstep during the same shift.

That was when the Bruins were clinging to a one-goal lead, and gave Boston the confidence their goaltender was going to stand tall as the two teams slugged away at each other.

“He was good and he was solid,” said Claude Julien. “You need good goaltending in the playoffs, but until the third period it was a pretty good tilt from our end about not giving up that many shots. But they came out in the third a desperate team, down 4-1, and we knew they were going to throw everything at us.

“We needed good goaltending, and tired to minimize the scoring chances and be patient. But that power play goal at the beginning of the third period certainly gave them some life.”

That life fueled the Maple Leafs with some desperate energy in the final 20 minutes, but couldn’t slip anything else past the Finnish netminder after Phil Kessel used a broken play in front to pot his second goal of the series.

Meanwhile at the other end, Reimer gave up four goals on 37 shots while taking his second loss of the series. His rebound control still leaves something to be desired, and at one point he was staring at his glove during a stoppage in play when he couldn’t cleanly glove a Bruins shot from just inside the blue line. His 3.33 goals against average and .915 save percentage are toward the bottom of the playoff stats for the Stanley Cup goaltenders, and much of this series should end up being valuable experience down the line.

But Rask clearly has the upper hand in the experience category when it comes to the postseason, and never flinched when Phil Kessel’s third period power play goal probably had many around the Bruins thinking back to all of the blown third period leads during the regular season.

That was then, and this is now for Rask and the Bruins. The timely saves and clutch third period performances are what the playoffs are all about for the Finnish netminder with a new contract riding on his performance in the next two months.