Rask stymies Penguins' high-powered offense, but gets some breaks, too
June 2, 2013 8:30 AM
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, right, denies Evgeni Malkin in the first period Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final at Consol Energy Center -- just the start of a long night for the Penguins.
By Jenn Menendez Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins managed what no team had done in these playoffs: shut down the Penguins offense.
Rask dove, stretched, and poked away 29 shots by the Penguins -- blistering across the crease at times -- to hold them scoreless in a wild Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday night.
His demeanor afterward suggested he doesn't expect to blank the most prolific offense left in the postseason every night.
Boston's 3-0 win was Rask's first career postseason shutout.
"You've got to be happy, obviously. I still thought they had plenty of chances," said Rask.
"Just one game. They keep doing that they're going to score some goals. It's going to happen. We did a great job blocking some shots today and taking care of those loose pucks."
With a pair of goals from David Krejci and a third from Nathan Horton, droves were leaving the Consol Energy Center early.
"Luckily, whatever little mistakes we made, Tuukka was up to the task," said coach Claude Julien.
Three times, Rask got help from the post, when Chris Kunitz clanked a shot off the left one, then Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby had a turn.
Rask made a killer save just seconds before the first period ended, extending his leg across the goalmouth to get a piece of a Malkin backhander that trickled along the goal line and out of the crease seconds before the horn sounded.
Rask made a stick save on Crosby at 9:10 of the third.
He gloved Pascal Dupuis' shot from the slot with two minutes left then calmly skated to the top of the right circle where teammates met him with pats on the head and chest.
"We had a handful of real good opportunities in the first period. A couple we misfired on. A couple we hit a post on. He made a couple good saves," said Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "We didn't capitalize on the power play; the chances we had, those were big opportunities.
Forward Nathan Horton said it was clear early that Rask would have one of those nights.
"You see it from the start. The big saves he made in the first period that really kept us in the game," said Horton. "He's so quick. When he sees the puck, he's going to stop it. We've got a lot of faith in him. He's our best player ,and it's definitely nice to have him back there."
But was it his best game ever?
"No. It was good," Rask said before being reminded it was his first shutout of the playoffs. "That's true. That was the first shutout. Always nice to get shutouts. Never get enough of those I guess."
"He's done great. I think sometimes our goalies they probably within the locker room don't get as much credit as they deserve," defenseman Andrew Ference said of Rask.
"We've been spoiled with such consistent play from them ... But, when we see the highlights and see some of the plays they did make, they usually get a delayed pat on the back the next morning when we kind of see how solid they were," Ference said.
Rask was quick to credit his teammates.
"We were taking the passing lanes away, pushing back," said Rask. "I don't think it was the best game we've had. Still [we made] some mistakes."