BOSTON – Tuukka Rask wasn’t too keen on the “slump” talk following the loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
The oft-brilliant Bruins netminder has allowed eight goals in his past two games, and wasn’t at his best in the third period when John Tavares lit him up for a pair of goals in a 5-3 loss at TD Garden. The winner was a shot from beneath the goal line from Tavares that bounced off Rask’s leg pads and ricocheted into the net, and the insurance marker was a power-play blast from the left circle that the Finnish netminder needs to stop.
Both are successful scoring chances that Rask would probably want another chance at if all things were equal. Four of the five Islanders’ goals were power-play goals, so there’s a limit to how much fault sits with the goaltender. Still, Rask’s two worst games of the season would have to be the night before Thanksgiving in Detroit when he surrendered six goals, and the sleepy effort Tuesday night in allowing five goals to the Islanders.
“Even a goalie like [Rask] has a bad game, but it wasn’t just him. We didn’t help him too much on those goals,” said David Krejci. “It is what it is but the good thing is we have 40 games left and we still can do something about it.”
The winner was an even-strength score that Rask needs to prevent, bad bounce or no bad bounce, but it’s also pretty clear the NHL’s No. 3-ranked penalty kill took New Year’s Eve off.
“The penalty kill was obviously weak and we recognize that, but then you’ve got to realize that they got a couple of bounces through,” said Rask. “[It] might have been a different game without those [bounces], but I don’t think we want to overanalyze that. [We’ll] start a new year tomorrow.”
Combine that with a delay-of-game penalty Rask earned by flinging a puck into the stands at the end of the second period that led to a Kyle Okposo tying goal with 3 seconds remaining in the middle stanza, and you get an idea why Rask wasn’t too warm and fuzzy following the defeat.
He clearly didn’t like being asked if he’s in a slump after allowing eight goals in two games, and taking a tough loss vs. the Isles after getting pulled Saturday night in a loss to the Ottawa Senators.
“Did you see those goals [against Ottawa]? Yeah I didn’t blame myself for that game,” said Rask. “I wasn’t even supposed to play that game. I totally forgot about that game and then tried to regroup today.
“So I wouldn’t say I’m in a slump. You think so? Sure.”
Rask still has a 1.99 goals-against average and .931 save percentage after a subpar showing against the Isles, and his coach wasn’t about to start picking his game apart given how good the goaltending has been.
“You guys can evaluate [Rask] the way you want. All I know is that he’s been a real great goaltender for us, and players sometimes have good games, and they have so-so games,” said Julien. “I’m certainly not going to throw him under the bus with everything he’s done for us, so I’ll leave it at that.”
Rask bounced back with a strong, winning effort two days after the Red Wings loss in a strong effort against the New York Rangers, and the Bruins will be expecting the same out of their Finnish netminder when he gets back between the pipes.