Rask's performance in Montreal goes beyond the numbers

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Rask's performance in Montreal goes beyond the numbers

MONTREAL Tuukka Rask only finished with 20 saves Wednesday night against the high-flying Canadiens, and some might take that as a rocking-chair effort for a goaltender in a rivalry game at the NHL level.

But Rask was instrumental in Bostons victory while holding things together in the first period with 11 saves.

"I told the team we needed to come out of the first period tied or ahead, and we were able to do that because Tuukka saved us," said Claude Julien. "He was outstanding early in this game."

Strictly for comparison sake, it took the Bruins offense more than 12 minutes just to get a single shot on Montreal's net. Certainly the Habs shot themselves in the foot a few times in defeat as Tomas Plekanec unsuccessfully flailed at a breakaway attempt while all on his own in the second period, and David Desharnais missed wide right on a doorstep chance in the third period that actually went through Rask's pads.

We wanted to come out hard and match their work ethic for that first period. But we didnt, said Rask. They got a lot of chances but luckily we got out of it in a 0-0 game and stuck with it for the rest of the game.

I dont think we felt good going into the third period. We were kind of waking up or a little rattled maybe. Its a game for first place and we were playing just well enough to lose by one goal. Then we started playing hockey.

But Rask was also his competitive, calm self while closing off a Lars Eller breakaway goal in the first period, and kicking it away to safety in the corner with a right pad save. The Finnish goaltender then just plain refused to let anything pass while chaotic scrambles bunched up all around him in fine Montreal fashion.

It wasn't a one-man operation either, however, and individual defensive players came up big behind Rask.

During one exchange in the first period Rene Bourque had the puck at the right post, and presumably had the kind of raw strength needed to push the puck past the goal line. First Dougie Hamilton had the presence of mind to block his scoring chance when the Bs goaltender was outside his crease.

Rask held the line on Bourques second rebound attempt.

The B's goaltender didnt have a shot at Montreals one goal in the second period scored when P.K. Subban ripped a shot off of Rich Peverley's stick blade that arched high into the corner of the net. So Rask put that score behind him and made 19 other stops throughout the game sandwiched around the one breakaway killer save on Eller that he tidily knocked aside with a stiff right pad.

Later in the third period Rask was again just as solid shutting down a last-ditch effort by the Canadiens to tie the game as Habs skaters grew desperate. Things continued to go white-knuckle until the very end as both clubs got whistled for penalties in the final minute plus of the game.

One confidence booster for Rask, who improved to 6-1-1 on the season with the win, is that his body of work against the Canadiens continues to improve. The Bruins goaltender upped his career record against Montreal to a 2-6-1 mark that could still use a few more W's for good measure.

His 1.96 goals against average and .922 save percentage this season are exactly where they need to be.

Tuukka has had the right attitude for us since day one with high expectations and question marks that go along with it, said Claude Julien. Day in and day out he just does his job and doesnt get too high or too low. Hes a normal goaltender.

That may be a surprise to a lot of people, but hes so easy going. I can talk to him in the middle of a game about something thats going on, and he has no issues. Some goalies would probably bite your head off if you said something to them in that kind of situation. But hes down to earth and easy to coach. That kind of translates into the calm play that allowed us to come back in this game.

Rask can afford to be much calmer when hes on the winning end as hes been six times in eight chances this year, a great start for the first-place Bruins and their goalie establishing himself as one of the best in the Eastern Conference.

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

BOSTON – The Bruins are undefeated this season when they manage to cobble together three goals in a game. 

It took a little extra as David Pastrnak knifed through former BC defenseman Mike Matheson in overtime for his second goal of the game, and his 15th of the season, to take a 4-3 win over the Panthers at TD Garden. 

It was thought the final offensive push they needed took place in the third period when Ryan Spooner hopped on the David Krejci line with David Backes, and fired a shot at the Boston net that Backes redirected through Roberto Luongo for his seventh of the season. 

But the Panthers tied it up on a Demers goal late in the third period, and that set up Pastrnak’s brilliant one-on-one move for the game-winner for the Black and Gold. 

The Bruins led off the scoring on a nice play by Tim Schaller winning a battle to enter the Florida zone, and then circling around behind the net before burying a one-timer from the slot as he crashed the net to connect with a David Krejci dish headed straight his way. 

The Panthers tied it a period later when the legend, Jaromir Jagr, buried a chance from the slot after his line had hemmed in the David Krejci line and Torey Krug/Adam McQuaid pairing for an extended shift in the Boston zone. It was goal No. 754 of Jagr’s brilliant NHL career as he continues to go strong for the Panthers, and it also tied the game 1-1. 

The Bruins looked like they might haven the lead for good on David Pastrnak’s 14th goal of the season, but it wasn’t mean to be. Pastrnak started it all by protecting a puck and retaining possession from his knees in the corner of the offensive zone. Eventually Patrice Bergeron fired a puck wide of the net, and Brad Marchand unleashed a spinning, no-look pass to a waiting Pastrnak for the easy score past Roberto Luongo. 

The Panthers tied it a second time in the third period when Reilly Smith stripped a puck from Patrice Bergeron going up the center of the ice, and eventually it found its way to Aleksander Barkov for a ripped shot from long distance for his fourth goal of the season. 

Then Florida tied it again in the final minutes of the third on a Jason Demers rebound bid after Mike Matheson’s shot went wide of the net and took a wild carom off the end boards in the exact opposite direction. 

Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

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Acciari nearing a return for Bruins after missing a month

BRIGHTON, Mass. – He hasn’t been cleared to play just yet, but fourth line energy guy Noel Acciari is closing in on a return to the Bruins lineup. 

Acciari joined in for a Bruins morning skate for the first time in 14 games at the end of last week, and practiced with the team again Monday for a morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. The 25-year-old has missed almost exactly a month with a lower body injury, and said he can thankfully now see the light at the end of the injury tunnel for a healthy return to the B’s lineup. 

“It was getting lonely with all the guys on the road, and with me just skating with Frankie [Vatrano] and Zee [Chara],” said Acciari. “It’s great to be back out there with the guys, and it’s good to be back. Each skate I feel a lot better out there and just trying to get my conditioning back. Just being back with the guys is a great feeling, and it’s a big help.”

The fourth line has been okay in Acciari’s absence, but it seemed to be lacking the same kind of energy and hard edge the Providence College standout provided when he was healthy. That was part of what led the B’s to call up the similarly rugged Anton Blidh from Providence at the end of last week, and could provide some interesting energy line options when Acciari is ready to return. 

“I’ve played with [Blidh] before, I’m used to him and I know what he brings to the table just like he knows what I can do,” said Acciari. “So it would work out well [if we played together] I think.”

Acciari has two assists and a plus-1 rating along with four penalty minutes while averaging 10:01 of ice time in 12 games this season, and proved to be very good at unnerving opponents simply by playing all-out all the time.