GAME 1: BRUINS 3, PENS 0
PITTSBURGH -- If Sidney Crosby and the Penguins were trying to unnerve Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask by ambushing him as he skated off the ice at the end of the second period, it clearly didn’t work.
Rask had just put together two straight shutout periods, and as he was skating off with the Bruins and Penguins engaged in varying degrees of fisticuffs at center ice, Crosby went right toward the Bruins goaltender and gave him an elbow to the midsection before throwing a cross-check at him.
What was Crosby saying to Rask?
“He just told me ‘great job,’ " said Rask, with a smirk on his face.
Did the Bruins goaltender, who shut out the Penguins in Game 1, 3-0, and has put together a 2.06 goals against average and .933 save percentage, feel like Sid the Kid was trying to rattle his cage just a little bit?
“I didn’t see how it started. It was just a mess. I was a little tired and was just skating off the ice, and somebody pushed me,” said Rask, who clearly seemed to know that 'somebody' was Crosby. “I don’t know what was going on. It was like ‘what did I do?’
“They didn’t score any goals, so I think maybe they were frustrated about that. I really don’t care . . . whatever.”
Crosby followed with a cross-check at Rask before the encounter was over between the two players, and Zdeno Chara intervened before getting into a comical showdown with the Penguins captain. Crosby attempting to look tough while shouting way up at the 6-foot-9 Bruins captain, as referees and other players stood between the two skaters, might not have been the look of intimidation Pittsburgh was looking for.
Either way it clearly didn’t work with Rask, who went on to stuff Crosby in a wide open scoring chance from the bottom of the right face-off circle in the third period, and properly protected a one-goal lead until both David Krejci and Nathan Horton scored insurance goals. Combine that with Rask getting a piece of a point blank shot from Evgeni Malkin in the closing seconds of the first period, and the Bruins goaltender made all of the important saves.
Considering that Rask should have been pretty rusty coming off a week of inactivity, his performance against Pittsburgh was head-turning.
“He got some rest [this week],” said Claude Julien. “As far as I'm concerned, he wasn't just good, he was outstanding.”
Rask was also the beneficiary of some suffocating Bruins defense, and got his share of puck luck with Penguins players like Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang all hitting posts in Game 1. But puck bounces are always a part of a shutout performance, and Rask wasn’t going to wipe the smile off his face after shutting down the NHL’s most explosive offense that averaged 4.27 goals per game entering Saturday night’s series opener.
“It’s always nice to get shutouts especially against an offense like that. It was just one of those games,” said Rask. “Sometimes you get the post, and sometimes you don’t. They had some good chances, and I made some good saves. But our players did a good job of blocking and taking care of those second pucks too.”
It’s also nice for the Bruins to get the goaltending they’re receiving from Rask in the playoffs. He’s putting up Tim Thomas-like numbers similar to what his former goalie partner did up to this exact point two years ago during Boston’s Cup run.