Tuukka Rask’s Birthday Gift To Bruins: 39 Saves In Win Over Senators

by abournenesn

March 11, 2015

The Boston Bruins didn’t play well over the final two periods of Tuesday night’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Luckily for the B’s, Tuukka Rask celebrated his 28th birthday by thwarting nearly every scoring chance the Senators created to secure a 3-1 win and two much-needed points in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Senators earned a 49-24 advantage in shot attempts and a 32-14 edge in shots on goal over the last 40 minutes. They spent a ton of time in the attacking zone and led 35-23 in scoring chances in all situations through three periods.

But as he’s done many times this season, Rask stepped up when his teammates weren’t playing at a high level defensively.

Rask made 39 saves on 40 shots, including stops on all six shots he faced on the penalty kill, for a .975 save percentage. Rask was most impressive in the second period, where he made 21 saves (his highest in any one period this season) and kept Ottawa off the scoreboard.

“It was pretty good from him,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley. “There’s no doubt he probably saved our bacon tonight. I thought we had a good first period, but in the second period on, we just lost our composure. Our reloads weren’t very good, and we gave them momentum.

“We were kind of fortunate to capitalize on our chances. Certainly those last two periods weren’t great, but at the same time, it’s a real important win for us, and we have to look at it that way.”

Rask was inconsistent over the first three months of the season, but he’s been one of the NHL’s best goaltenders since the calendar turned to 2015.

Entering Tuesday night, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner ranked third with a .941 even-strength save percentage among netminders with 20-plus games played since Jan. 1. Rask’s .932 save percentage in all situations during that same span is the fourth-best among goalies with 20 or more games played.

Led by Rask’s improved performance, the Bruins have taken points from 21 of 28 games (15-7-6) since the beginning of January and own a six-point lead for the last wild-card playoff spot in the East. In fact, the Bruins are just four points (with a game in hand, too) behind the Washington Capitals for the first wild-card berth.

The Bruins don’t have the same depth or talent on the blue line as they did last season, which makes Rask’s performance even more critical to the team’s success this campaign. That said, Rask certainly is capable of carrying the Bruins over the final weeks of the regular season, as evidenced by his career .932 save percentage as Boston’s starting goalie (2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14) in March and April.

Thumbnail photo via Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports Images

Previous Article

Ryan Spooner’s Six-Game Point Streak Shows Bruins Prospect’s Potential

Next Article

Will Ferrell To Play All Nine Positions In Different Spring Training Games

Picked For You