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.

Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

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Morning Skate: No surprise cheap-shot artists are running wild

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while hoping everybody on this Memorial Day takes some time to appreciate all of those that made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. We should also take a moment to say thanks to people like the three heroes in Oregon that stood up to a hateful bigot earlier this week, and in doing so reaffirmed what the majority of people living in the US believe we are all about while trying to live up to that ideal every day.
 
-- A number of NHL legends are shaking their heads at the dirty play that we’re seeing in these playoffs, particularly those plays targeting the superstars that people pay big money to see in the postseason. Why should anybody be shocked by this? The rooting out of enforcers, and fighting, has taken accountability out of the game for the cheap-shot artists and dirty players, and leaves little real deterrant for players looking to take out opponents with dangerous plays. I wrote about this a couple of years ago when the NHL threw the book at Shawn Thornton for going after Brooks Orpik, and in doing so chose to protect somebody trying to hurt opponents (Orpik) and punish somebody trying to protect his teammates (Thornton). It was a sea change for the league, and something players didn’t forget as more and more enforcers were quickly weeded out of the NHL. This is what the rule-makers and legislators wanted, and now it’s what they’re getting just a couple of years later with dangerous stick-work, cheap shots and a general lack of respect for fellow players.
 
-- Here's why the Tampa Bay Lightning would consider trading a player like Jonathan Drouin, and the major impact that could have on the offseason trade market.
 
-- Down Goes Brown has a Stanley Cup Final rooting guide for the other 28 other fan bases now that Nashville and Pittsburgh are in the final series.

-- So which goaltender has the edge in the Stanley Cup Final: Nashville's Pekka Rinne, or Pittsburgh's two-headed monster of Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury?
 
-- Scotty Bowman says winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles has become monumentally difficult since the advent of the salary cap.
 
-- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are pushing each other to be betters, and showing exactly how a team should be led by its superstars in the salary-cap era for the league.
 
-- For something completely different: We can confirm through this report that a lot of hot dogs are eaten in the summertime. So glad we have people to research these kinds of things.
 

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.