Tuukka Rask Rebounds From Recent Struggles With Strong Showing in Shootout Loss to Sabres

Tuukka Rask Rebounds From Recent Struggles With Strong Showing in Shootout Loss to SabresTuukka Rask didn't get back in the win column, but he did take an important stride toward regaining his form Friday night in Buffalo.

Rask stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced through 65 minutes of action, helping the Bruins earn a point before falling 2-1 to the Sabres in a shootout.

Rask hasn't won since beating the Panthers 3-2 in another shootout Florida back on Jan. 16. He's played just six of the Bruins' 17 games since, but hadn't done a lot to earn more ice time in that span.

Prior to Friday, Rask had allowed at least three goals in each of his previous five starts, after giving up three just once in his previous 11 appearances, going 9-1-1 in that span.

"I just tried to be more patient and not go down too early," Rask said. "I did a pretty good job with that, except that goal. It was a step ahead for me and hopefully I can keep it up."

Rask was beaten just once in regulation, when defenseman Andrej Sekera took advantage of a breakdown in Boston's defensive coverage and slipped in for a blast from the right circle at 14:45 of the second period.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara answered that with a power-play strike early in the third, and that was all either Rask or Buffalo counterpart Ryan Miller (35 saves) would allow until the shootout.

Early on though, it didn't look like it was going to be such a tight defensive struggle. The Sabres nearly struck in the opening minute, but Rask kept the puck out during a scramble in the crease and gave the Bruins a chance to settle themselves.

"Tuukka was good for us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He made that big save for us early in the game, on the first shift I think. It was going in and he made that big save to keep us in the game."

That was a marked improvement from Rask's last appearance in Buffalo. He was pulled early in the second period of that eventual 6-0 loss after giving up three goals on just 10 shots. He surrendered four more goals on 25 shots in a 4-2 loss in Winnipeg in his only appearance since, but Friday finally seemed to find his old form again.

"I thought he was strong," Julien said. "I thought he made some good saves and he seemed in control. It was definitely a good outing on his part."

It was the kind of outing the Bruins will need down the stretch, as they will have to be able to rely on both Rask and Tim Thomas when the games pile up and the importance of those contests mounts in the final weeks of the season.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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