BOSTON — Tuukka Rask appeared to give the Rangers life in Game 4 when he caught an edge, fell over and allowed Carl Hagelin to get New York back into that game and into the series. On Saturday night in Game 5, however, Rask took all the life out of the Rangers with one big save.
New York captain Ryan Callahan got loose midway through the period with his team trailing 2-1 and walked in all alone on what appeared to be a helluva chance to tie the game. Rask, who summed the Game 4 gaffe up to being just a part of goaltending, showed the impressive side of the position by making a 10-bell save on Callahan’s backhanded attempt with 11:22 to play in the third.
The blocker save sent TD Garden into a frenzy, but more importantly, it preserved a precious lead. That was a lead the Bruins would hold on to on their way to a 3-1 win in Game 5 and a 4-1 series win.
The scenario — Callahan breaking in on Rask all alone — was nothing new. Callahan scored on a similar play in Game 2, going to his forehand for the tally. Armed with that information, and a scouting report from goalie coach Bob Essensa, Rask thought he had Callahan all figured out.
“Well our goalie coach told me after, I think it was Game 1 [the Callahan goal earlier in the series] when he scored on that breakaway that he never goes backhand,” Rask said. “So I was banking on him shooting and keeping it on the forehand. But he went backhand, and I just extended my leg and blocker there and made the save.”
It was a far cry from the play in Game 4 where Rask got his skate caught in a rut and embarrassingly fell over as he watched the puck slide by. Being a successful NHL goalie, however, requires that fine balance of having short-term memory loss while also learning from past mistakes.
“I didn’t feel bad about myself after Game 4, obviously there was a little screw up there with that goal,” Rask said. “But I didn’t let that bother me, and I felt like I played a decent game after that. Coming in today I just wanted to be rock solid back there, and give our team a chance to win the game.”
The importance of winning Game 5, and not letting the Game 4 performance give the Rangers momentum, was also important for the Bruins.
“We responded well,” Bruins coach Claude Juilen said. “We wanted to make sure we ended the series for all the right reasons, but also some of it is you don’t want that to linger, to say ‘Oh, because of that goal, New York is back in the series and now it’s 3-2.’ I think it was important for all of the right reasons to end it and move on to the next series.”
Maybe, just maybe, Rask can now look back at the gaffe and have a little laugh about it.
“Also, it gives Tuukka a reason to laugh about that rather than crying, right?” Julien added. “I think that was pretty important, too. That’s what I told Tuukka after the game, ‘You can start laughing now.’”