Like most goalies, Tuukka Rask doesn’t care for the emotional peaks and valleys of the shootout.
“I don’t think anybody enjoys them,” Rask said. “It’s all right. It’s just that emotions-wise, it’s great. The greatest thing ever. When you lose, it’s like you lost the Stanley Cup final. It’s just such a roller coaster with the emotions.”
On Monday against Winnipeg at TD Garden, Rask felt that up-and-down ride for the first time this season. Rask pumped his fists in frustration after Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg’s No. 1 shooter, tucked a backhander into the net. But two shooters later, when Bryan Little hit the post, Rask gave a fist pump for the opposite reason.
It was a tamer game than Saturday’s blood-pumping 3-1 win over the Rangers. But the result was the same: two points, giving the Bruins the 2-0-0 start they had hoped to claim in their first homestand of the season.
“It’s a Monday afternoon game,” Rask said. “Sometimes for these afternoon games, it’s tough to get up and tough to wake up for these games. I think for our team throughout the years, it’s been a tough task to overcome. There was no difference today. But luckily we got the win.”
The Bruins’ lack of finishing touch nearly put them on the wrong end of the result. In the second period, Nathan Horton had a doorstep chance. Brad Marchand hit the post with a backhander. Aaron Johnson hit a post, then the Jets buried Shawn Thornton before the right wing could find the rebound in the crease. After Ondrej Pavelec stuffed a close-range Patrice Bergeron shot, Tyler Seguin couldn’t find the handle to tuck in the open-net rebound.
So late in the game, the Bruins had to rely on Rask and their penalty kill. Both stood tall.
With 1:11 remaining in the third period, Johnny Boychuk was sent off for high-sticking. The Bruins killed off Boychuk’s penalty. At 3:32 of overtime, Zdeno Chara was caught for holding Wheeler on a one-on-one chance. Replay showed that Wheeler had lost an edge before Chara pushed him down.
But Boston’s PK (Boychuk and Andrew Ference as defensemen, Bergeron and Chris Kelly rotating as the lone forward) kept Winnipeg’s power play from breaking through. The Bruins are now 8 for 8 on the PK after two games.
“We’ve had a good penalty kill for a number of years now,” Ference said. “I think our forwards probably don’t get as much credit as they deserve either, whether it’s Kelly or Bergeron up front, especially in those situations. They make our life fairly easy. I think there’s just that confidence when we’re in those situations where it’s the same personnel a lot of the times or a combination of just a couple. We’ve been doing in together so many times that you know where each other’s going.”
Winnipeg scored first. In the opening period, Rask (26 saves) turned back a Paul Postma point shot. But Chara couldn’t clear the rebound. Rask thought he had repositioned himself for the rebound. But Chris Thorburn swept the puck past the goalie short side at 1:58 of the first period.
The Jets should have swiped a 2-0 lead later in the first. Kyle Wellwood slipped behind Ference and Adam McQuaid and took a long-distance pass from Evander Kane. Rask stared down Wellwood during the forward’s entire approach and didn’t give him anything. Wellwood, forced to make the first move late on the breakaway, tried to go high glove. Rask got a piece of Wellwood’s shot, then covered the rebound at 10:14.
The Bruins tied the game later in the first. Andrew Ladd, from just outside the Winnipeg blue line, tried a backhand pass to Bryan Little. Seguin stepped in front of the pass and started a rush the other way. As Seguin pulled the puck wide right, Brad Marchand dashed toward the middle. Before Dustin Byfuglien could hold up Marchand’s rush, the left wing hauled in Seguin’s pass and tucked the puck past Pavelec at 14:12.
Marchand, who didn’t play during the lockout, was off his game against the Rangers. Marchand started Monday’s match slowly too. But the goal helped Marchand feel a little better about his game.
“It was a struggle a little bit the last game, especially at the start,” Marchand said. “My hands just weren’t there. I seemed to be a little tentative going into the battles. But I felt a little better toward the end of the game. I felt pretty good tonight. Pretty much the whole league’s in that boat. Everyone’s a little rusty. You just have to stick with it.”