If any of Bruins Nation was worried about goaltending going into the post season, I think we can all breathe a little easier tonight. Tonight’s performance of the Tuukka Rask show had the Black and Gold goalie stopping thirty shots on goal by some of the league’s leading scorers. They weren’t just saves. Some were timely, a few were acrobatic, and the rest were worthy of Vezina consideration.(The 2-on-1 with Steven Stamkos and Martin St Louis being the big one.)Tonight’s shutout was his fifth of the season, and the sixteenth of his career.
Tuukka has very likely guaranteed himself a slot as a Vezina finalist this year. His five shutout wins places him atop all other goalies in the NHL. Rask is now fourth in goals against (1.97), and second in save percentage (.930) That second place standing is behind Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators. With Anderson playing eleven fewer games than Tuukka, it does give Rask more credibility(at least it should) to the judging committee.
The first period showed the Bruins off to a lackluster start. The team spent the majority of their time on the defensive trapped in their zone. The Lightning had gotten three shots on Tuukka without a single one in response by Boston. Then faster than you can say “8 miles to the gallon while littering on the highway.”, our own eco-warrior Andrew Ference proceeds to put a serious beat down on former teammate and Bruin, Benoit Pouliot. The team and the fans needed that spark, and Ference went out there and grabbed it. For the rest of the period, it looked like the Bruins were out to bottle up the Lightning.
The first score of the night game from an outstanding pass from the Little Ball of Hate, Brad Marchand. He zipped into a 1 on 3 situation, saw how the defense was positioning itself, and sent an excellent pass out to Dennis Seidenberg. The German Hammer vaulted one pass Bruins and Lightning alike. I don’t think Anders Lindback saw that black missile shoot by him. That gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 4:22 in the second period.
The Bruins kept the pressure up in the second. The Merlot Men once again came up big for Boston. Shawn Thornton forced a turnover at the Lightning blue line, and the puck ended up with the puck coming into the offensive zone on the left side. Gregory Campbell took the puck and made a great cross the ice pass to Daniel Paille. Paille fired off a one timer that got through Lindback and put the Bruins up by a pair.
Welcome back Milan Lucic! I’m not sure where you’ve been the majority of this season, but it was sure nice to see the chirping, checking, and brawling you on the ice tonight. Lucic got in four hits, and decided to go toe to toe with the Lightning defenseman Keith Aulie. Aulie is a monster at 6’6″ and 230 pounds, but Lucic proceeded to take apart the bigger guy with ease, finishing the fight by dumping Aurie to the ice. The Ference fight got the team and the crowd on its feet, and the Lucic fight kept them there.
The win gives the Bruins(28-13-5) sixty one points, and they’re still tied with the Montreal Canadiens. The blanc, blue, et rouge beat the Winnipeg Jets tonight. Not only does this knock out the resurging Jets from playoff contention, it means we’ve got to put up with Montreal on our coattails for at least one more game. Our next game will likely be a preview of the second round of the playoffs as the battling Bruins will be in Washington to take on Alex Ovechkin