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.