Rask takes blame for Bruins' one point vs. Rangers

995007.jpg

Rask takes blame for Bruins' one point vs. Rangers

BOSTON -- You could make the argument that the Bruins owed Tuukka Rask a favor.

So many times already this season, Rask has kept the Bruins in games, leading to wins. Had the Bruins lost in regulation on Tuesday night, it would have been on Rask.

But some way, some how, the pesky Bruins scored a pair of goals in the final 1:31, while Rask had been pulled from the game in favor of the extra skater, and they managed to leave the TD Garden with one point in the 4-3 shootout loss.

Even Rask acknowledged, on this night, he was to blame.

"They kind of saved my ass there, because I didn't deserve the two points today, or one point, because I let up a couple bad ones," said Rask after the loss. "But we definitely, as a team, deserved some points, and they got my back today to get those goals. It was a good chance for me to bounce back in the shootout, for sure."

Rask allowed two goals in four rounds of that shootout, leaving the Bruins with only one point.

But the Bruins should be happy with that one point, based on the way Rask looked on New York's second and third goals of the game, which gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead that they held all the way up until midway through the third period.

The first goal Rask allowed wasn't his fault. It was the result of a shift that Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference probably wishes he could have back.

Ference made one too many passes back to his defensive partner, Adam McQuaid, and as the Rangers kept the puck in the Bruins' zone, Ference had several more chances to get it out, but failed.

Rick Nash took advantage in the slot by sending a pass over to his left as he was falling to the ice, where Carl Hagelin put it into the net from the left post for the 1-0 Rangers lead midway through the first.

But the next two New York goals came from outside shots that Rask -- or most NHL goaltenders fro that matter -- would easily save.

Derek Stepan made it 2-0 in the second period after he snapped a shot from the left circle that just snuck under Rask's glove and into the net. Then, two minutes into the third, Anton Stralman took a shot from the right circle that hit Rask's blocker and then trickled over the goal line, forcing Rask to lose his cool on the ice.

He knew those were pucks he should have stopped.

"The second one was kind of weak, the third one was weak," said Rask. "I think that was the difference.

"We battled hard," added Rask. "They didn't get too many scoring chances. When they got them, they just found a way to put that in. I've got to take some part of that too."

Because of that, Rask described the comeback as "awesome," as he glanced down the ice from the bench, with the net empty to his right.

Rask couldn't help the Bruins secure two points in the shootout. But with the skill-level in today's NHL, it's awfully tough to pin a shootout loss on a goaltender.

Had the Bruins not bailed out Rask and put themselves in the shootout, it would have been Rask's fault.

He took the blame for that. But after all, the Bruins owed him one.

"There's no doubt it balances out," said coach Claude Julien afterwards. "A goaltender will win you some games. And he certainly wasn't bad. There were probably a couple of goals that Tuukka would normally have. But like I said, we battled back, and even though we should have had those, we shouldn't have even allowed them to have that opportunity, had we played a little bit better in front of him."

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

ap_17083100627774.jpg

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.