Return of “Tuukka Time”: Tuukka Rask to see more starts this season in Boston

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Two seasons ago, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask became a sensation in Boston with his stellar play and wild antics in goal. Playing as a feisty loose cannon in goal that makes a ton of saves and wins games will make you a favorite in any city, but in Boston “Tuukka Time” took on a life of its own.

Last season, Rask figured to continue his career onward and upward as Tim Thomas was coming back after a rough season and surgery. Thomas, of course, then went on to have one of the best seasons by a goalie in years winning the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies and leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup all while Rask took a backseat playing in just 29 games last season.

With Thomas a year older and coming off a season that saw him play 82 games through the regular season and playoffs, “Tuukka Time” is going to make a huge comeback this season. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty has the details from Bruins coach Claude Julien about how Tuukka Rask will help keep Tim Thomas better rested this season.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that Tuukka has to take a bit of a bigger bite this year. That’s not a secret and don’t plan on making that a secret,” said Julien. “Tim is a great goaltender, but Tim is a goaltender that understands that he can’t play 70 plus games in the regular season. He’s had a long playoffs and I think Tim is going to be just as happy as we are to have Tuukka here and paying some of his best hockey.

“I liked [Rask’s] practice today, I thought Tuukka looked sharp and he came in great shape, so hopefully he’s ready to take on that load. We’ll certainly make sure that we share [the goaltending workload]. You just want to make sure you keep your goaltenders as sharp as you can and Tim had such an outstanding year last year. We’d love to see him duplicate it, but he might be able to duplicate with some help from Tuukka by keeping him as fresh as we can.”

Thomas’ stellar season last year is one that would be awfully tough to replicate and expecting him to do that is asking the impossible. The kind of work he did last year, especially in playing a full season schedule’s worth of games when it was all said and done, is the stuff of legends. It also means you can’t bank on that happening again, especially for a guy who is 37 years-old.

Rask is the heir to the throne eventually in Boston and after a rookie season that saw him play so well, the Bruins have no reasons to worry about how he’ll handle himself in goal. While he didn’t see much action last year, he’s more than capable of getting it done. Julien already saying he’ll be calling his number more often shows their confidence in him. Rask can help the Bruins win games and, more importantly, he can make sure Boston doesn’t miss a beat while Thomas gets a breather to help him be rested for a playoff run.

Let’s just hope Bruins fans can remember their “Tuukka” call for when he does get the call.

The Buzzer: Kempe, Schwartz record hat tricks; Leafs honor Gord Downie

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Players of the night: Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues / Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The Blues forward tallied his third career hat trick during a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Schwartz scored the game’s first two goals before completing his hat trick with a late empty-net goal to stave off a Chicago comeback.

Wednesday’s feat for Schwartz came three years to the day of his first career three-goal game.

Kempe, meanwhile, tallied his first NHL hat trick and finished with four points during LA’s 5-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens. Two of his three goals were assisted by Mike Cammalleri, who also finished the night with four points.

Highlight of the night:

Eddie Olczyk returned to the NBC broadcast booth as he continues his battle against colon cancer. Olczyk, along with Doc Emrick, called the Blues-Blackhawks game from Scottrade Center Wednesday night.

MISC:

Auston Matthews recorded the 20th multi-point game of his career. He now has six goals and 10 points on the season.

Patrick Marleau became the 18th NHL player to reach the 1,500-game mark.

Jake Allen kept his shutout bid alive with this great stick save on Patrick Kane late:

-The Kings are off their best start in franchise history at 5-0-1. They’ve allowed only 10 goals against through six games.

Jeff Carter left the game in the first period and did not return after tangling with Jeff Petry. Afterward, Kings head coach John Stevens said the forward will miss some time.

-Finally, The Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away from cancer at age 53 on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs paid tribute before their game against the Red Wings.

Factoid of the night:

Scores:

Maple Leafs 6, Red Wings 3

Blues 5, Blackhawks 2

Kings 5, Canadiens 1

Cammalleri, Kempe power Kings over Canadiens

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Adrian Kempe recorded his first career NHL hat trick and Mike Cammalleri added two goals as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1.

After Paul Byron opened the scoring for Montreal midway through the first period, the Kings responded with five unanswered goals to hand the Habs their sixth straight defeat.

Cammalleri, who inked a one-year deal over the summer to return to the Kings, had a hand in four of LA’s five goals. He started the scoring for the Kings in the first period by celebrating the Dodgers’ playoff run with his own special kind of baseball swing.

Kempe, who finished with four points as well, scored his three goals over a span of 10:50 in the third period to help the Kings to their best start in franchise history (5-0-1).

LA remains the only NHL team yet to lose in regulation this season.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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