Rare win over Montreal a boost for Rask

Rare win over Montreal a boost for Rask
March 13, 2014, 1:00 am
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MONTREAL – Tuukka Rask couldn’t help but sneak in a snappy line when asked if he wanted to take any of the credit for the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre.

“I always take the credit, so I’m used to it,” said a smirking Rask.

The Bruins goaltender ended with 35 saves, and stoned both Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk on breakaways in the first period when Montreal threw everything they had at the Black and Gold.

“Tuukka stopped some breakaways, but that’s what we pay him to do: stop those pucks,” quipped Claude Julien.

Rask finished with a strong 14 saves in the first 20 minutes while keeping things scoreless, and watched the Bruins defense really slow things down in the final two periods while keeping shots to the outside. Sure, Rask looked a little shaky on clean perimeter shots from Andrei Markov and Thomas Vanek early in the game.

Still, he clamped it down when it mattered most before allowing a meaningless David Desharnais goal in the third period.

“He kept us in the game for sure in the second period. He had some huge saves for us. It’s something you rely on from him night in and night,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought we responded really well from his performance, and then we got going with that [Carl Soderberg] goal. After that I thought we played a really good game.”

Rask did collect a shutout win against the Canadiens at the beginning of last season, so collecting a “W” wasn’t ending a long drought against the Habs for the Finnish netminder. Still, it did improve his career won-loss record to 3-10-2 against Montreal over the course of his career, and end a streak of five straight wins for the Canadiens over the Bruins over the past two seasons.

Does that bring any relief to Rask?

“I don’t care. I felt good against them, but I think I’ve still got a losing record against them. So I’ve got to win a few more games,” said Rask. “Despite the start I thought we played a pretty good game. We took away most of their opportunities and capitalized on the ones that we had. We’re happy with where our game is right now.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the rink, Peter Budaj wasn’t quite as leak-proof while the Canadiens have posted a save percentage well under .900 since Carey Price’s injury coming out of the Olympic break. That gave the Bruins a distinct advantage in goal for this particular match-up against the Habs, and Rask made sure that was the case when he rose to the occasion early in the divisional showdown.