AP NEWS

Rask Has Stepped Up for Bruins

May 4, 2019

By Steve Conroy

Boston Herald

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Boston Bruins gave the Columbus Blue Jackets the response they desperately needed to give Thursday night at Nationawide Arena in their 4-1 victory in Game 4.

Not only did they even up the series 2-2 to regain home-ice advantage, the B’s top players rose to the occasion. David Pastrnak scored a David Pastrnak-type goal. Patrice Bergeron finally got one past Sergei Bobrovsky, not once but twice. Brad Marchand snapped his four-game pointless streak.

But no one stood taller in this pivotal game -- and one in which it seemed like the B’s were facing not one but two teams -- than Tuukka Rask.

The oft-maligned netminder delivered the performance the B’s absolutely had to have to keep from being pushed to the brink of elimination. Rask stopped 39 of 40 shots -- including a first-period penalty shot -- and the only one that got by him never should have counted.

The talk of this series has been almost all about Bobrovsky, but Thursday night Rask reminded the hockey world there are two elite goalies in this series.

“Tuukka was outstanding,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I thought he fought hard to compete on second chances tonight, especially on that power play in the third period. I thought there were a lot of second chances and they scored some goals like that (the game-winners in Games 2 and 3) and we’ve got to do a better job in front of him, obviously with clears but I think he really competed hard to find pucks. He made some good saves on the odd-man rushes on the angles and then obviously, the penalty shot. It was a big turning point in the game.”

Pastrnak had given the B’s a 1-0 lead on a one-timer and then the B’s were given the first power play of the game. On the kill, Boone Jenner took off on a partial break -- a recurring them for the B’s PP all night -- and he was awarded the penalty shot on Marchand’s stick infraction. Rask calmly blockered away Jenner’s freebie shot and, 26 seconds later, Bergeron scored what held up as the game-winner.

But there would be more drama to come. Given a 2-0 lead, Rask had made a fairly routine save that clearly went into the netting over the glass and out of play. The play should have been whistled dead, but it was simply missed by the officiating crew. According to the play-by-play, Artemi Panarin scored four seconds later against a Bruins team that looked fairly bewildered. Rask said he didn’t know if the puck had hit the mesh at the time.

“If I saw it, I probably would have slammed the sticks and chased the refs,” said Rask, able to laugh it off after the game.

According to the bizarre vagaries of he NHL rulebook, it was not a reviewable play. Rule 38.4 says it is only reviewable if the puck goes directly into the goal off the netting, or if the player who retrieves it off the netting scores the goal. Go figure. If a player is a toenail’s length offside 30, 40, 50 seconds before a goal is scored, that play still is subject to review. No doubt it is something that will be looked at it in the offseason, but that didn’t help the Bruins any Thursday night.

“This day and age, I think it’s crazy,” Rask said. “If the refs don’t see it, I don’t know why the league can’t call it. They’re watching the game, right? What if that’s an overtime goal. It didn’t cost us, but I think it’s funny that they can look at a lot of other goals and call them back from the offices, so why not that?”

It was a one-goal game until Sean Kuraly gave the B’s a 3-1 lead at 8:40 of the third. Rask made a lot of huge saves between the Panarin goal and the Kuraly tally.

There were other questionable calls and non-calls. Jenner was awarded his penalty shot on a shorthanded bid when it didn’t appear he had gained any separation on Marchand. And Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kukan could have been given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his elbow to David Backes’ jaw instead of the two-minute minor he did get, though with the way the B’s were giving up shorthanded breaks it might have been just as well for them.

“The penalty shot was a huge moment for our team. It’s one of those things where it’s a (potentially) 1-1 game and it gets the crowd right into it and were scrambling possibly. Things can just snowball from there and he shut the door on that -- and one of their hottest players as well,” DeBrusk said. “Then he made a few more Grade A’s. Tuukka’s so calm and collected, but he does have a little bit of a mean streak and he does get mad. It’s very rare. But when he does, get out of his way. I don’t know if that happened or not, but I do know that he won us this game tonight.”

Indeed he did.