Game three required a double overtime marathon session that didn’t end until after midnight. When all the ice chips finally landed, Patrice Bergeron got a great pass from Brad Marchand and fired it past Tomas Vokoun to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 win. That now gives the Bruins an overwhelming 3-0 lead going into game four on Friday. While the new Bergeron line undoubtedly gave us the win, the most important catalyst to the Bruins success has been our goaltender, Tuukka Rask.
Tuukka Rask is playing one of the better postseasons in recent NHL history. With tonight’s win, Rask’s post season record stands at 11-4-1. His goals against average continues to drop. At present, it is a stunning 1.85, and he has a .940 save percentage. Against the Penguins, the numbers look beyond spectacular. He’s 3-0 with 0.67 goals against and .982 save percentage. When Tuukka signed that one year contract, he knew he was playing for his contract. Now, he’s playing for the Stanley Cup. (It’s safe to say that Tuukka is easily earning himself a five or six million a year deal to stay in Boston.)
Tuukka seemed to have kept the Bruins in this game single handedly through the later part of the second, and the entire third period. He stopped a career best fifty three shots on goal tonight. Some of those saves were timely, and a few were spectacular. Penguins players were seen throughout the night skating past Rask and shaking their heads in disbelief. Tuukka saw the difference in Pittsburgh’s play and made adjustments accordingly.
“They were 100 percent [better],” Rask said after the game. (While I am very pleased Bergeron got the US Army Ranger jacket, in the author’s opinion it should have gone to Rask. Bergeron won the game, but Rask allowed them to survive to stay in the game.)“We didn’t get clear chances, as many as we did the last two games. They tied it up and then came with the offense pretty hard, too. Especially in that second period. I thought we took some penalties that got us going a little bit in the wrong direction. But Pittsburgh played a great game today.”
(On another side note, had the Bruins lost, I would have nominated the referees for the Third Star of the night for Pittsburgh.)
This was the longest game in Tuukka’s career. (95:19) He handled it with the poise and control of an elite NHL goaltender. (Guess he’s not so ‘mediocre’after all. Right Pens fans?) “I don’t think you feel that physical fatigue at that point,” offered Rask. “It’s just trying to keep your head and not thinking that you’re tired. It’s just a mental challenge. If you think you’re tired, you’re tired.” Now the Penguins will have to fight for their lives Friday night at the TD Garden.