BOSTON – Tuukka Rask wasn’t quite ready to talk in the minutes following his frustrating, guilt-ridden loss in Game 1 of Boston’s second round Stanley Cup playoff series to the Montreal Canadiens. The Finnish netminder hadn’t been terrible in the 4-3 double overtime loss to the hated Habs on the TD Garden, but Rask had also allowed four goals in a game where his teammates outshot the opposition by a 51-33 margin.
Those are usually the kind of games where the goalie feels like he wasn’t good enough even if Claude Julien isn’t going there.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team, so I’m certainly not going to jump on my goaltender,” said Julien.
Rask was clearly still cooling his temper when he quickly walked through the B’s dressing room shortly after it opened to the media, and loudly slammed doors behind him. A few minutes later Rask emerged to discuss the defeat at the hands of Montreal that dropped his career record to 0-5-3 in games against the Canadiens on the TD Garden ice, and didn’t waste much time berating himself.
“I was [expletive] today. I’ve got to be better,” admitted Rask in a moment of graphic candor that’s become commonplace after the rare frustrating loss for the Finnish netminder. “From a goalie’s standpoint, Carey Price played a lot better than I did.
“It was not an off night. I made some saves, but I couldn’t make the game-savers as you say. So, you go home, sleep and regroup.”
Rask headed into Thursday night’s game as one of the leaders in the clubhouse for the Conn Smythe Trophy after posting a 4-1-0 record with a 1.16 goals against average and .961 save percentage in the five games against the Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins goalie wasn’t tested all that much by the Wings offense, but he made every save that he needed to while completely discouraging Detroit.
That didn’t happen against Montreal, however.
P.K. Subban managed to float a wrist shot from the high point past Rask in the first period when a pair of Bruins defenders failed to block the shot from inside the blue line, and then got beaten five hole by Rene Bourque when a mismanaged B’s breakout turned things into a Montreal odd man rush. Francis Bouillon scored goal No. 3 for the Habs following a melee in front of the net where Johnny Boychuk and Torey Krug were getting overpowered.
But it was the final game-winner for Rask that probably bothered him the most. It appeared that the Bruins netminder was screened on the Subban double-OT game-winner, but Rask said he got a clear look at the puck. He felt like he should have swallowed up the puck, and given the Bruins a bit longer stay of execution in a game where the Habs seemed to be getting stronger and stronger.
But instead Rask lost a playoff game to Montreal for the first time in his NHL career, and continued a longstanding body of work against Les Habitants that’s a mixed bag at best. Rask’s goals against average vs. the Habs at home is creeping close to 3.50, and his save percentage is well below .900. It’s got to the point where Rask knows the numbers, and it bothers him that he can’t consistently beat his team’s arch-rivals.
Instead Rask fought the puck against the Canadiens, and Price was making flashy glove stops en route to a 47-save performance for Montreal.
“We got three. That should be enough to win,” said Rask. “’When you suck, you suck’ – That’s it. What can I say? It’s the playoffs. I think I saw enough of that last one to catch it, but I don’t know. It’s just a typical overtime goal. It’s somebody’s mistake, right? [This time] it’s mine.”
Rask has clearly shown in the last few years that he’s got an easily erasable memory when it comes to ego-crushing playoff goals, and that he can go from “suck” to “shutdown” pretty quickly. Now it’s a matter of doing it, making every effort to get his first Garden win against the Bruins on Saturday afternoon and making certain that Price doesn’t outplay him again in this series.