Game 4 was Tuukka Rask’s best of this series, but he set the tone for it after Game 1.
Following Carey Price’s 48-save OT thriller — 12 saves shy of Patrick Roy’s franchise-record 60 in the ’94 playoffs — Rask laid down the gauntlet, so to speak, with this:
Tuukka Rask: “I was (expletive) tonight. I need to be better. From a goaltending standpoint Price outplayed me tonight” #BruinsTalk
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) May 2, 2014
Rask wasn’t the best goalie on the ice that night, but he was hardly, y’know [rhymes with hit]. He allowed four goals on 33 shots, two of which came on the power play, and certainly couldn’t be blamed for the loss.
Thing was, Rask knew Price won the game for Montreal — in Boston, no less — and it ate at him. So on Thursday, the Finnish netminder decided to flip the script.
“We really needed this win. We knew that,” he said, per CSNNE. “It seemed like we were a little nervous and were squeezing our sticks at times, so hopefully this win helps us.
“I always just try to play my game, and hopefully it’s good enough to get the win. Tonight I was able to get the shutout.”
Rask became the first Bruins goalie to record a postseason shutout against the Habs in 10 years and, fittingly, did it at the Bell Center. It was his signature win of the series and the first time he’s posted a save percentage above .893; in the aftermath, it was suddenly the Canadiens talking about how they needed to make Rask’s life tougher, after days of listening to how the Bruins needed more traffic in front of Price.
“We’ve got to try to make life a little bit more difficult on Rask in front of the (Bruins) net,” Josh Gorges said, per the Montreal Gazette.
Earlier, I wrote this series could be a jumping off point for the Rask-Price rivalry, and it’s certainly shaping up that way. The two are reasonably close in age (Rask’s 27, Price is 26) and while Rask bested Price this season for the first-ever Vezina nomination between the two, it was Price that one-upped Rask at the Olympics, backstopping Canada to gold (while beating bronze medal-winning Finns along the way.)
And the best part? This series is nowhere close to being done. Boston and Montreal will definitely go to at least Game 6 and, given the razor-thin margin between the two (cumulative score of 11-10 in favor of Montreal, two games decided in OT), it’s fair to suggest Game 7 is in the cards.
For what’s arguably the best goaltending rivalry in the NHL right now, here’s hoping it goes the distance.