BOSTON — The Bruins haven’t played their best hockey over the last four games, but they have won each matchup thanks in large part to the brilliance of No. 1 goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Boston was out shot and lost the puck possession battle again Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Rask made 35 saves on 37 shots for a .946 save percentage, in addition to stopping both attempts he faced in the shootout. The Lightning had a 59-56 shot attempt edge in all situations (47-38 at 5-on-5) and held a 37-30 advantage in shots on goal.
Similar to Tuesday’s win over the Ottawa Senators when Rask made 21 saves in the second period (his season-high for one period), Boston struggled to exit the defensive zone against Tampa Bay and was out shot 16-4 in the second period as a result. Rask stopped all 16 shots.
“It was good,” Rask said of Boston’s effort. “I mean, we shot ourselves in the foot there in the second, just doing bad mistakes and turnovers. But we came out flying in the third, got the goal, and then they tied it, but we never went down, and we kept pushing and pushing, and got the win finally. So it was a good effort today. We feel good about this win.”
His best save of the night came in the first period on a Jonathan Drouin shot during a Lightning power play. Rask got his right pad extended far enough to keep the puck out.
Rask has been dominant to start the Bruins’ grueling March schedule with a 3-0-1 record and a .941 save percentage this month.
He’s regaining his Vezina Trophy form of last season at the perfect time because the B’s face several more playoff-caliber opponents before the month ends, including a back-to-back against two quality teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals this weekend.
— The Bruins ended their shootout drought by scoring twice in three attempts. Bergeron and Marchand scored to halt Boston’s run of seven straight shootout losses.
“You look at some of the players and I think (Bergeron) right now is pretty confident with his scoring ability, so we had him lead the way,” Julien said. (David Pastrnak) is a dangerous guy and has had success against this goaltender so far this year. So, he missed — he was another good candidate, and then (Marchand), another guy who’s a great shooter and has that quick release. So, tonight it happened to work out.”
— Several Bruins had a rough game from a physical standpoint. Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille each missed a brief period of time after taking pucks to the face in the first period. Campbell also got drilled into the boards during the second period and slowly skated to the bench. Dennis Seidenberg was cross checked along the end boards and went face-first into the glass.
Each player was able to finish the game. [tweet https://twitter.com/PeteBlackburn/status/576178156064890880 align=”center”]
— Ryan Spooner extended his point streak to seven games with an assist on David Pastrnak’s first-period goal. He has three goals and five assists during the streak, which is the longest by a Bruins rookie since Brad Boyes in 2006 and ties the longest in the NHL this season.
— The B’s have the longest active win streak in the league at four games. They are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
— Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Boston has scored the first goal in 10 straight games. It’s the team’s longest streak since Feb. 3 through Feb. 26 of the 1989-90 campaign when the Bruins opened the scoring in 12 straight games.
— The Bruins extended their win streak against the Lightning to 10 games. Tampa Bay also has a 10-game skid at TD Garden.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images