Tuukka Rask left Boston two weeks ago with just five wins in 17 decisions over the Bruins' first 57 games, and had yet to string together back-to-back wins this season.
Six straight games away from the Garden hardly seemed a recipe for getting the young Finnish netminder's game back on track.
But a little time away proved the perfect cure for all that ailed Rask's game for much of the first five months of the season. Rask led Boston to wins against the Islanders and Senators to start the longest road trip of the season, then returned for two more victories in Edmonton and Ottawa to close out a perfect 6-0-0 trip.
Rask's best work came Tuesday night in Ottawa, as he stopped 33 shots to blank the Senators and lift Boston to a 1-0 victory.
"I've had a tough time winning games this year," Rask said after earning first-star honors. "It's a good feeling to get back on track and getting those wins on the road especially. It's a team game, a team effort and I thought we did a great job in these six games."
Just about everyone on the roster that was revamped with three trades at the start of the trip contributed to the six victories, but Tuesday's win was all about Rask.
"We definitely weren't at our best, so it was nice having Tuukka in there playing great for us," said forward Nathan Horton, who scored the game's lone goal early in the third period. "Maybe guys were a little tired, but some games that's the way it goes. We got a lucky bounce and capitalized and that's a big two points for us."
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara turned in a strong effort himself with a game-high 23:43 of ice time, but he too was quick to credit Rask.
"Obviously he was excellent. He made some big stops," Chara said. "At the end he was really standing on his head for us. It's nice to see he's finding his game again. It's so important to have both of the goalies going well for us."
Tim Thomas' play has never been in doubt this year, and he did his part on the trip with a pair of wins against two of the hottest teams in the league in Calgary and Vancouver. Thomas looked refreshed after getting a week off while Rask opened the trip, and Rask showed no rust upon his return to close out the trip. Not even when things got a little anxious with a pair of Ottawa power plays in the third, then goalie Craig Anderson pulled for the extra attacker in the final minute.
"I thought the first two [periods] were actually tougher," Rask said. "I didn't get that many shots in the third. Guys shut them down and blocked the shots more than in the first two. But when you're leading 1-0 you just want to be focused and try to get that win."
Rask managed that, and may have finally given the Bruins the two-headed monster in goal they've been seeking all season as he pushed his personal win streak to four.
"It's good, we've always felt confident with him," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It was a matter of him finding his game a little bit. He's played a little more lately but he's played a little better as we've moved on here so that's a great sign for our hockey club."
Almost as good a sign as the Bruins now leading the NHL with 48 points on the road after their perfect trip.
"It's huge," Rask said. "It's probably something you don't expect to happen when you start. You expect to win, but six games in a row on the road, it's tough. We accomplished that and we have to be happy with that."
The Bruins are happy that Rask is back in form and even happier they survived a strong test from a surprising Ottawa squad that has been gutted by injuries and trades.
"This was a tough game for us," Julien said. "They had good legs, they had great goaltending and we look like a tired team tonight. We've done a lot of miles these last four days, three games in the last four [days] and [traveling] coast to coast, so our guys looked a little tired tonight. But character took over and we persevered and found a way to win."
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