The Boston Bruins are one win away from the Stanley Cup Final, and as has been the case much of the postseason, they have Tuukka Rask to thank.
In a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final, the goalie turned away 35 of the 36 shots he faced, including all 20 in a first period where he was absolutely peppered.
The result probably should have been far different, but instead, Rask continued what arguably has been the best postseason of his career. In the three games against the Hurricanes, Rask has a 1.67 goals against average with a .944 save percentage.
“It’s been his poise (that’s impressed me most),” Patrice Bergeron said after the game, as seen on NESN’s Bruins postgame coverage. “Tuukka’s one of those guys who’s always calm and collected, never too up or down. He’s always even-keeled, and right now he’s in the zone, to be honest with you. He’s been amazing and he’s a huge reason why we’re (in the position we’re in) right now.”
If not for the way Rask has played, the Bruins very well could be trailing in this series. And if he keeps up this level of play the rest of the postseason, a legitimate argument could be crafted that he’s rivaling Tim Thomas’ showing in the 2011 run.
Comparisons aside, the Bruins are where they are because of Rask. The way he’s played has been nothing short of impressive, and the Bruins are almost to the final round because of it.
Here are some other notes from Bruins-Hurricanes Game 3:
— Boston’s fourth line was tremendous in the win.
Chris Wagner opened the scoring in the game with a redirect after a tremendous pass from linemate Joakim Nordstrom. The trio of Wagner, Nordstrom and Sean Kuraly ultimately combined for a goal, two assists, eight shots, six hits and two shot-blocks.
That group has played well for some time now, and that’s part of the reason Noel Acciari was a healthy scratch in Game 3. If Wagner is able to play in Game 4 after hurting his hand on a shot block late in the game, it’ll be tough for Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy to break that unit up.
— Playing in his 100th career postseason game, Brad Marchand had the Bruins’ other goal in the win.
— This is the 20th time the Bruins have been one win from the Cup Final in team history.
— The Bruins have done a nice job preserving leads in the final period this postseason. They led 2-1 entering the final frame Tuesday, meaning they’re now 10-0 when leading after two.
— Boston is on a six-game win streak, tied for the longest postseason run in franchise history.
— This is the eighth time in Bruins history that a team combined for 60 wins between the playoffs and regular season.
Thumbnail photo via James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports Images