Earning points in 17 consecutive games certainly is no accident, and in the current run of form the Boston Bruins are in, they obviously have played a pretty good brand of hockey with regularity.
Tuesday was not one of those cases.
It’s not often a team playing as well as the Bruins has needed to lean heavily upon its netminder, but when the B’s did Tuesday, Tuukka Rask answered the call in the 3-2 win at TD Garden.
The 30-year-old turned away 37 shots, with 19 of those saves coming during the onslaught he faced in the first period. His teammates gave him little room for error, but he did what he needed to with the space he was giving to lock down the win.
Such a performance should serve as reassurance of sorts that Rask still is a premier NHL goaltender, especially as the Bruins inch closer and closer to the Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning in the standings.
Particularly after his slow start to this season, Rask faced some valid criticism, but since the egg he laid Nov. 26 against the Edmonton Oilers, Rask has played almost exclusively at a high level.
And following Tuesday’s win, that was not lost on his teammates.
“We didn’t have a good start and Tuukka was unbelievable in the first period for us,” B’s winger David Pastrnak said, via a transcript from the team. “It could have easily been 3-0 for them, but he made some great saves. You know, it’s hard when you’re waiting for a team coming off a back-to-back, you know they usually come out flying — even Montreal the third game, you know I think the first 12 minutes they were absolutely all over us. So, we knew it was coming, but sometimes, you know, that’s why we have Tuukka and he got us going.”
Tuesday’s 37 saves is tied for the highest save tally in Rask’s 12 appearances during the current point streak. He also stopped 37 shots in a December win over the Winnipeg Jets, and he faced at least 30 shots on just one other occasion.
Even after a game like Tuesday, however, Rask attributes much of his success to the team in front of him.
“I think our team is playing really great hockey and a lot of that credit goes to them,” Rask said. “As long as your team plays good then you have a chance to look good, too. I think that’s the biggest reason.”
It obviously is tough to miss how well the Bruins’ skaters are playing, especially with the performances the top line has been putting out on a nightly basis. But when the team in front of Rask breaks down, he has given them the support they’ve needed.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Devils:
— The Bruins’ current point streak of 17 games is the third-longest in franchise history, matching the streak set by the 1982-83 Bruins.
— Boston conceded the first goal of the game for the sixth straight game.
— The top line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak has combined for 60 points during the current 17-game point streak.
— The 19 first-period shots on net the Bruins allowed Tuesday was the most in a single period this season. Rask stopped each shot.