After slow start, Rask puts stop to Senators

April 22, 2017

OTTAWA — On a night when he was almost perfect over 90-plus minutes, making crucial season-saving stops (41 in total), Tuukka Rask was busy deflecting credit to rookie and overnight sensation Sean Kuraly, he of the game-tying and season-prolonging goals.

“He’s a hard-working guy who does all the right things,” said Rask, who will never be faulted for either of the breakaway goals he gave up before the Bruins roared back last night at the Canadian Tire Centre to score three straight and save their season with a 3-2 double-overtime win over the Senators.

“It’s great to see a guy rewarded for hard work,” Rask added. “He gets his nose dirty and goes to the right spots.

“Obviously we didn’t get the start we wanted . . . down 2-0 on the two breakaways. But we battled hard and grinded it out and stuck with our plan.”

The Bruins game plan could have gone either way after Mark Stone put the Senators up 1-0 11:19 into the opening period when he took the second of two long passes to skate in alone and beat Rask.

Emotions could have gone even more south just 30 seconds into the second period when Jean-Gabriel Pageau also went in all alone to make it 2-0 with the Bruins less than 40 minutes away from summer vacation.

But Rask stood tall as the last line of defense and two goals was going to be it for Ottawa, at least if his defenders could keep from getting caught up ice.

Rask gave up goals on two of the first 11 shots he faced, then slammed the door on the Senators.

He stopped the final eight shots he faced in the second and another five in the third, many of them late in regulation with the Bruins forced to kill back-to-back minors.

Rask starred in the first overtime with 13 saves, and made six more in the first 10 minutes of the second overtime to give Kuraly his chance at a career night in his young NHL career.

The Bruins found ways to fight through adversity through some calls that didn’t go their way and Rask bought them time to eke out the win.

“I think we played things pretty cool,” Rask said. “The last couple of games, some calls have gone against us. But we stuck with our plan.

“Overtime games are always tough because they are going to go one way or the other. It went good our way (last night).”

So after beating the Senators just before midnight, some 12 full hours after their morning skate, the Bruins hoped to be in the air by 1:45 a.m. to get back to Boston and prepare for Game 6 riding an emotional win and the hot hand in the net.

“I mean you need your goalie to make some saves in a game like this,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “And sometimes goalies have to step up.

“Both goalies stepped up. We just got a few more saves than they did.”