BOSTON — Tuukka Rask and his Bruins teammates knew the goalie would notch his first win of the season at some point. After three disappointing showings in front of the B's netminder to begin the season, though, the answer as to when that win would come was pretty foggy to say the least.
The B's gave Rask plenty of support on Monday night, and Rask was able to pick up his first win of the season. It was a relatively easy one at that, as Boston rolled to a 6-2 win over the New York Islanders at TD Garden.
Rask and the Bruins tried three times already this season to get the Finnish goalie his first "W" of the season, but each time, the B's instead presented Rask with lackluster efforts and no-show offense. That all changed on Monday.
In fact, the B's doubled their goal total in Rask's first three starts of the season, as they netted only three total goals in those losses.
"Great to see the scoring streak continue," Rask said of a Bruins offense that has suddenly come alive, scoring 18 goals in the team's current three-game win streak. "I wasn't too frustrated, but obviously when you feel like you're playing OK, it's kind of tough on your confidence. But we battled through it, and it's good to get that win."
Bruins coach Claude Julien was pleased with his team's efforts in front of Rask and was quick to point out that the goalie's win drought was a product of the team's play, and not Rask's.
"I think it was just a matter of time," Julien said. "I don't think we ever questioned his play, even in those games he lost. It was obvious that his game was fine, but it was us in front of him not doing a very good job.
"[Monday] the players played much better in front of him and gave him some cushion as well, and he was able to play comfortably."
Much of Rask's ability to "play comfortably" stemmed from the fact that, also for the first time all season, the B's jumped out to a quick start with Rask between the pipes.
Benoit Pouliot scored his first goal in a Bruins uniform just 1:32 into the first period, before Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin capped a three-goal first with tallies just 29 seconds apart later in the period.
Just like that, Boston matched its goal output in front of Rask — in just 20 minutes. It was clear the Bruins wanted to get Rask that first win of the season.
"He deserves it," Bruins center David Krejci said. "He's had a pretty good attitude at practices. He was giving us a hard time to score [for] him, so we felt like we owed it to him to win [Monday], so it was well-deserved for him."
The fact that Rask has played much better than his win-loss record reflects isn't lost on his teammates either.
"We've talked about it for a while," center Patrice Bergeron said, "he deserves more wins than he's got right now. We had to do it for him. We weren't sharp in front of him, and that's our fault that we didn't get those wins before. But we're really happy for him and he got us through tonight."
The Bruins made life even easier for Rask with their special teams play, as the power play scored on its only chance, while the penalty kill was able to kill off all four power plays afforded to a potentially potent Islanders attack.
The penalty kill was especially important in the second period, when the Bruins killed off two minor penalties to preserve what was a one-goal cushion.
"A couple of penalties, and they had some decent chances, but I thought we did a pretty good job of clearing the rebounds," Rask said.
"Our guys have been committing to blocking shots getting into shooting lanes," Julien said. "We're outworking the power play, and that's basically one of the main secrets, is you've got to be willing to go out there and outwork them."
The B's outworked the Islanders for much of the 60 minutes, and because of that, Rask can call himself a winner for the first time since April 2. Yet, it's being a part of the bigger goal — stringing together those wins as a team — that Rask is concerned about.
"Obviously we want to support each other, and I think we did a pretty good job of that," he said. "Mostly, we wanna just keep the winning streak going and start the streak off on a good foot with some big games coming up."
For the first time all season, Tuukka Rask is a winner, and more importantly, the B's are now owners of a three-game winning streak.
It was only a matter of time.