ST. LOUIS — Tuukka Rask wanted to make it clear in his post-game press conference. When he has a night like he did during the Boston Bruins’ 5-1 win in Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues, there’s no secret to it. There’s no magical formula that helps him deliver another performance like that when his team needed it the most.
Rask’s 28-save night helped the Bruins force a Game 7 Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET; NBC) in Boston.
“He’s our best player,” said Charlie McAvoy, who teamed up with Rask to prevent the Blues from tying the score. “He has been all playoffs and all regular season. We know that when he plays like that, to the best of his ability, and when we do our jobs in front of him, we’ve got to help him out. He’s going to be there. He’s going to be in that zone.”
When facing elimination or with the chance to close out a series this postseason, Rask has been unbelievable. In five games, he’s posted two shutouts and stopped 145 out of 149 shots faced for a .973 save percentage.
The Bruins knew the Blues were going to be amped with the chance to win the Stanley Cup on home ice, so they came prepared. But when Boston started going to the box and giving St. Louis power play after power play, the Blues couldn’t cash in on those opportunities and were unable to solve Rask, who stopped all 12 shots he faced during four successful penalty kills.
Rask has not just been the Bruins’ best player when they’ve needed it, as McAvoy said, he’s been their best player all playoffs. It’s why if they’re able to close out the series Wednesday night the Finnish netminder will be the one receiving the Conn Smythe Trophy moments before captain Zdeno Chara lifts the Stanley Cup for a second time.
“He just steps up when it matters and we have all the faith in the world in him, and to see him play the way that he did, it’s really not a surprise to us,” said McAvoy. “We just believe in him so much and we know the kind of person and player he is. He’s our rock.”
Rask has also delivered on the road this postseason. He’s helped the Bruins win six of seven games and while boasting a .966 save percentage and two shutouts away from TD Garden. With the Game 6 victory he became the 19th goaltender in NHL history to record 50 career playoff wins while needed the 10th-fewest games ever to do so.
Now it’s down to one game, the 17th Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final history. The 18,890 fans inside Enterprise Center were prepared to attend a party Sunday night, but Tuukka Rask had other plans. Due to his heroics, the season comes down to one final game.
“He’s allowed us an opportunity to play in a Game 7,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “The whole hockey world loves a Game 7. Should be a great night in Boston.”
Blues-Bruins Game 7 from TD Garden in Boston will be Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
MORE BLUES-BRUINS GAME 6 COVERAGE:
• Bruins push Stanley Cup Final to Game 7 by beating Blues
• Special teams an issue once again for Blues in Game 6 loss
• St. Louis newspaper gets roasted for ‘jinxing’ Blues before Game 6
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy