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.

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction. 

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while sorting through all the Bruins-related alternative facts out there.

*Matthew Tkachuk is having some disagreements with his parents about his mouth-guard usage with the Calgary Flames.

*Former Yotes D-man Keith Yandle says that the Arizona Coyotes “know what they’re doing” despite their decent to the cellar in the Western Conference.

*Insights on every goaltending situation in the NHL from the crack ESPN.com staff breaking down the fantasy rankings.

*The struggles continue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they can’t seem to gain any traction in the Atlantic Division.

*Wayne Simmonds took the blame for a late penalty that led to Philly’s undoing as they battle for playoff position in the East.

*Sounds like Patrik Laine might be nearing a return to the lineup, and that’s a very good thing for the Winnipeg Jets.

*For something completely different: We have a title for the next Star Wars film. It’s going to be called “The Last Jedi.”