Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask will make his Winter Olympics debut Thursday when he starts in net for Finland’s first preliminary round game against Austria.
Finnish news outlet MTV has reported that Dallas Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen will serve as Rask’s backup, leaving San Jose Sharks goalie Antti Niemi to a third-string role.
Rask was expected to start over Lehtonen and Niemi after a stellar 2013-14 campaign for the Bruins through 57 games. He’s 25-13-4 with a .928 save percentage, a 2.11 goals against average and a league-leading five shutouts. Rask’s previous international experience includes a bronze medal won with Finland at the 2006 World Junior Championships.
Finland has not announced if Rask is the permanent starter or just for Thursday’s opener. A few teams, including Canada, are starting different goaltenders over the first two games in Sochi. The Fins will play Norway on Friday before finishing the preliminary round with a showdown against defending gold medalists Canada on Sunday.