Rask stays hot in shootout win over Devils

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Rask stays hot in shootout win over Devils

BOSTON -- Its safe to say things have played out to letter perfection for Tuukka Rask and the Bruins in the goaltending department. The Finnish netminder stopped 25 pucks in Bostons 2-1 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden after getting the previous night off against the Hurricanes. He improved to 4-0-1 on the season with the win. Rask was at his best early in the game as New Jersey threw big bodies at the net, and he needed to hold his ground.

As the game went on, it was kind of a typical Devils game, said Rask. They dont give you those good shots that make you feel comfortable. They try to get traffic in front of you and get those back doors.

His best save came when the game was still scoreless in the first period on a delayed penalty call as Ilya Kovalchuk fired a bomb from the high point that created a rebound in front of the net. Jersey tough guy Krys Barch jumped on the loose puck and attempted to stuff it inside the left post, but Rask was able to get his right leg pad down to smother the shot attempt. The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder had a second chance to push the puck past the goal line, but Rask stood his ground while holding on for the refs whistle.

He was a difference-maker, especially in the first period, said Zdeno Chara of the Bruins goaltender. He made some good saves. He was very solid, obviously. To score the goal they scored, he couldnt really prevent it. It was a deflection, but other than that he had a really strong performance.

There were other good saves as the Devils got a handful of tipped pucks and shots in close in a typically heavy game between Boston and New Jersey, and as Chara indicated Rask had no shot to stop Jerseys only goal.

David Clarkson had a high slot redirect of a Marek Zidlicky bomb from the left point on a power play, and Rask had no chance to get any part of his body on the puck once it changed directions.

When you talk about being able to win games on a consistent basis, you have to be able to rely on your goaltenders today," Claude Julien said. "I think of those big saves he made, especially in the first period where we had a couple of lapses. Some tough decisions there and they drove the net and Tuukka Rask stuck his pad out and made a big save that one time. And he really made the keys saves at the right time and kept us in the game and allowed us to stay in the game.

After a solid 65 minutes, Rask saved some of his best for the shootout.

He was beaten early on an Ilya Kovalchuk wrist shot that froze him, but he stoned the final five shooters including a diving poke check on David Clarkson that seemed to be a reaction to Johan Hedberg doing the same thing to David Krejci at the other end of the ice.

A glove save on Marek Zidlicky cinched two shootout points for the Bruins, and improved Rasks season numbers to a 1.74 goals against average and a .932 save percentage on the season. That puts him in a class with Craig Anderson, Antti Niemi, Corey Crawford and Martin Brodeur as the goalies off to the best starts in this shortened 2013 campaign.

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

Bruins rebound from 3-0 deficit but wind up losing to Caps in overtime

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals didn't exactly end their overtime victory with a raucous celebration.

No, instead Washington held a players-only meeting, still salty over blowing a three-goal lead.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 to avert a disastrous defeat Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3-3.

Backstrom saved the day, but not the Capitals from feeling uneasy.

"In the second and third period they outplayed," Backstrom said. "We were lucky that we came up with two points. We're not satisfied at all. We're happy with the two points, but not the way we played."

The locker room remained closed for approximately 15 minutes after the win, Washington's second in a row after losing three straight.

"We had a little talking here," said T.J. Oshie, who returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 18. "There are some things we've got to clean up. I think it's more of a mentality more than it is the systems or anything like that. ... Once we get a step up on someone, we have to get that mentality that we're going to finish them off."

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night. The Bruins outshot Washington 34-20.

"Hell of an effort. We got a big point for us. To comeback from 3-0 against Washington, it's not that easy," Pastrnak said. "Too bad we couldn't get the two points, but in this case the one point is huge for us."

Backstrom patiently waited on the right side before firing the winner past goaltender Tuukka Rask, who entered second in the league with a 1.68 goals-against average. Rask allowed three goals in his previous outing, too.

Williams had two goals over the first 24 games this season, but he matched that total less than eight minutes in against the Bruins. He redirected Kuznetsov's lofted centering pass past Rask for a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the first period.

"To be honest it's nice to see the puck go in the net," Williams said. "I've been pressing and working hard. Hopefully this can springboard me to some more production."

Matt Niskanen left with an upper-body injury and did not return. With the Caps down a defenseman, Boston outshot Washington 11-2 in the second period.

"In the second period, we just sort of sat back," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "It's hard to protect leads in the league."

The Capitals' second goal also occurred in front of the net. Williams emerged from a scramble with a shot that slithered under Rask.

NOTES: With his 673rd career win, Trotz passed Mike Keenan (672) for eighth place on the NHL's career wins list. ... Williams' first goal was the fastest for Washington since 2012. ... Boston assigned F Noel Acciari to the Providence Bruins two days after the 24-year forward returned to practice. Acciari injured his right leg on Nov. 7. ... Holtby improved to 10-2 career against the Bruins. His first career win came in relief against Boston in November 2010. ... The three-game season series resumes Feb. 1 in Washington.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Colorado on Thursday night.

Capitals: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.