Bruins-Panthers Notes: Tuukka Rask Stellar Again In Shootout Loss


Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask did all he could to secure two points for his team Saturday night, but unfortunately for Boston, it wasn’t enough in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center.

The reigning Vezina Trophy winner made 24 saves on 25 shots for a .960 save percentage. One of those saves, an incredible stick stop on Panthers forward Dave Bolland, helped the Bruins reach overtime and take one point to remain in the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Rask also made a tremendous save on Panthers forward Brandon Pirri — whose four-game goal streak ended Saturday — during a 2-on-1 odd-man rush in overtime.

Not getting enough goal support is nothing new for Rask this season. In fact, he’s given up two goals or fewer in 12 of his losses (regulation and overtime/shootout).

The Bruins have scored just seven goals — six, if you take away an empty-net tally — in Rask’s last four starts. The Finnish goaltender posted a .935 save percentage in that span, but Boston went just 1-2-1.

Rask has a .934 save percentage since Jan. 1, which is the fifth-best mark among all goaltenders with 20 or more games played. There’s no reason to believe Rask won’t maintain this level of play through the end of the regular season, but he cannot be relied on to secure a playoff spot by himself.

The Bruins’ offense has to score more goals, specifically during 5-on-5 play, for this team to survive a tough upcoming schedule that includes games against elite teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers over the next week.

— Boston scored on the power play at 2:52 of the second period when Patrice Bergeron beat Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo from the slot. It was Bergeron’s 20th goal and 50th point of the season. The Bruins have now scored power-play goals in back-to-back games after an 0-for-15 slump entering Thursday.

— Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton left the game late in the second period and didn’t play a shift in the third period. B’s head coach Claude Julien had no update on Hamilton’s status during his postgame interview with NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley.

Hamilton picked up his team-leading 32nd assist on Bergeron’s goal.

— The Bruins are 3-9 in shootouts this season after Brad Marchand, Ryan Spooner and Bergeron failed to score Saturday night. Pirri scored the only goal for Florida.

The Philadelphia Flyers (nine), Detroit Red Wings (nine) and Panthers (10) are the only teams with the same amount or more shootout losses than the B’s.

— The Bruins won 41 of 65 faceoffs, led by Bergeron’s 25-for-34 mark (74 percent). The veteran center is the only NHL player with a faceoff percentage above 60.

— Panthers forward and Dorchester, Mass. native Jimmy Hayes opened the scoring at 14:41 of the first period. He has a career-high 18 goals in 62 games this season.

— Shawn Thornton is in his first season with the Panthers after spending the previous seven campaigns in Boston. He reached an impressive games played milestone Saturday.

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Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images

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