Tuukka Rask was named the NHL’s No. 1 star for the month of December on Tuesday, and a few hours later he started a good case to earn the same honor for January.
The Boston Bruins goaltender made 25 saves on 26 shots for a .962 save percentage in a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders at Barclays Center.
Rask struggled to begin the season, but he’s been the league’s top netminder since the start of December. He’s allowed one goal or fewer in 11 of his last 12 games, and his .958 save percentage during that span is the best in the league. And by the way, he has an 11-0-1 record in that stretch, too.
Entering Tuesday, Rask ranked second with a .923 save percentage and sixth with a 2.13 goals against average among goalies who’ve played at least 25 games this season.
The Bruins are playing their best hockey of the season over the last month and there are many reasons for that. From top to bottom this team is doing its job, but Rask’s return to elite status has been the driving force behind this winning stretch.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Islanders:
— Danton Heinen has become a dependable forward for the B’s. He scored his 10th goal of the season and added an assist to start January on a high note. The Bruins will be delighted if Heinen is as productive in January as he was in December when he tallied 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 14 games.
— Brad Marchand’s assist on Patrice Bergeron’s second-period goal was the 200th of his career. Marchand tallied the 400th point of his career back on Dec. 14.
— Five different Bruins scored versus the Isles (Heinen, Marchand, Bergeron, Noel Acciari and Tim Schaller).
— Boston’s offense is on fire. The B’s have outscored opponents 32-9 during their current eight-game point streak (7-0-1 record). The Bruins also have scored five goals in three of their last four games.
— The B’s are 8-3-0 in their last 11 games against the Islanders.
— The Bruins went 10-2-2 in December to move into a second-place tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. The B’s now are 16-3-2 in their last 21 games after Tuesday’s win. Boston’s victory over the Islanders, combined with Toronto’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning puts the Bruins into sole possession of second place, and they also have three games in hand on the Leafs.
Even though it’s still early in the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if the B’s and Leafs met in Round 1 of the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
— Getting a lead on the Bruins has been quite difficult of late.
— Jordan Eberle’s first-period goal was the first allowed by the B’s at even strength when the Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–David Pastrnak line has been on the ice this season. This line up made up for it, though, as Marchand and Bergeron both scored later in the game.
Thumbnail photo via Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY Sports Images