Tuukka Rask Still Struggling to Win at Home Despite Excellent Effort Against Rangers

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March 26, 2011

BOSTON — Tuukka Rask took a final spin on the on ice after Saturday's game with the New York Rangers.

The Bruins netminder had been named the game's No. 3 star after stopping 22 of the 23 shots he faced. He acknowledged the ovation from the Garden crowd, but wasn't quite able to fully enjoy the moment.

Despite his strong effort, Rask had been once again denied a victory on home ice. After scoring 11 goals in the first two games of their homestand, the Bruins were blanked by Henrik Lundqvist and a smothering New York defense in a 1-0 loss to the Rangers.

Rask hasn't won at the Garden since beating Dallas back on Feb. 3. In fairness, he's also started just two games at home since then after struggling much of the first half of the season as Tim Thomas' understudy.

But Rask has righted himself on the road of late, going 5-1-1 in seven starts away from home since his last appearance at the Garden. He couldn't translate that success to home ice though, falling once again on Saturday.

Rask isn't getting down on himself though, as his recent road success has helped him find his old form.

"I feel OK," Rask said. "I haven't felt awful this year. I mean obviously I've had some tough games, but that happens. I try to feel confident every time I step on the ice there and I try to do my job as well as I can. And coming to playoff time you never know what happens and you just have to be ready."

The Bruins have plenty of faith in Rask as well.

"Tuukka's good. I mean, it's unfortunate that he just lets one goal in and he gets a loss in the loss column for that," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "He was good [Saturday] and definitely he needed a little support from us up front that we weren't able to give him tonight."

Rask isn't going to unseat Thomas as the Bruins' primary starter after Thomas has put together another Vezina-worthy campaign, but the Bruins still need Rask to help keep Thomas fresh for the playoffs and to be ready to step in when needed.

"I think he's been pretty good lately," Julien said. "I think Tuukka's played pretty solid hockey for us in the last month. It's been refreshing I think for everybody, including himself, and we can move forward here knowing that we got two goaltenders that can do the job for us."

Rask's lack of success at the Garden should turn around soon. After Saturday's effort, he's actually got a better goals-against average at home (2.66) and save percentage (.921) at home than on the road (2.70/.914). He just hasn't had much luck, as those numbers have produced just a 3-8-1 home record compared to 7-5-1 on the road.

"One goal, you have to be satisfied with your performance, but a loss is a loss, right?" Rask said.

At the Garden, it seems to be that way a lot this season for Rask.

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