BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask had a 2.71 goals-against average entering Monday night's game against the New York Islanders at the TD Garden. But he had no wins to show for it.
Three starts, three losses. That's how Rask's season had gone.
But everybody in the Bruins dressing room agreed: it wasn't his fault.
Monday night was about extending their win streak to three games. But with Rask getting the nod -- even after Tim Thomas posted a shutout on Saturday night in Toronto -- the Bruins' game against the Islanders meant more than a win streak.
It was about getting Rask something he deserved a long time ago.
"We wanted to get this win for him," said Bruins forward Gregory Campbell after Monday night's game. "He works hard every day. It's not an easy job and he's positive. He's a great goaltender and not too often you have two great goaltenders on one team battling for the same job, so we have a lot of confidence in both of them. Tuukka's played well every time he's been in the net. We just haven't had the goals to support him so it was nice to get those goals and give him his first win."
The B's defeated the Islanders 6-2 on Monday, marking the first time they've scored more than three goals for Rask since last February. In his three previous starts this season, the Bruins were shut out, scored one goal, and then scored two. All three resulted in losses.
Rask admitted some frustration, Monday, with his team's inability to bring their A-game when he's been between the pipes. It's a problem that continued from last season. But things were different against the Islanders.
"I wasn't too frustrated, but obviously, when you feel like you're playing OK, and then you just lose, it's kind of tough on your confidence a little bit," said Rask after Monday's win. "But we battled through it, and it's good to get that win.
"It's more fun to win than lose. I was a little frustrated, obviously. But not too crazy. I knew it would come, because we were playing bad as a team at the beginning of the season too, so it was just bad luck there. It feels good obviously."
Rask made 26 saves and didn't allow a goal after the pair he let up in the first period. He had no chance on the first, as Matt Moulson beautifully re-directed a shot from the point. And on the second, Rask was a victim of a Michael Grabner snipe to the top-right corner.
Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the game that it would have been "easy" to go back to Thomas on Monday night, after his shutout against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. But Rask's previous success against the Islanders combined with the fact that Julien is dead set on playing both goaltenders this season, made for Rask's fourth start of the season.
And this time, the players in front of him showed up.
"I think it was just a matter of time," said Julien after the win. "I don't think we ever questioned his play. And even in those games he lost, it was pretty obvious that his game was fine. It was us in front of him that weren't doing a very good job.
"So tonight, the players played much better in front of him, and gave him some cushion as well. And he was able to play his game comfortably."
"We really put a lot of talk before the game into it," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "Its something he deserved and we just didnt do a very good job early on when he was playing. So for sure, tonight to get a win for him and Im sure hes also happy with his performance.
"You could see the guys really sacrifice themselves, blocking shots. We saw Danny Paille was just paying the price. Gregory Campbells always trying to block shots, Dennis Seidenberg. We have guys willing to do their job to prevent any pucks going to the net and Tuukka made really big saves when we needed it."