As stakes rise, Rask shows he’s able to boost intensity

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / May 4, 2010

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The man of the hour was Milan Lucic, who potted the winning goal last night in Game 2 of the Bruins’ Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers at TD Garden, but one of the driving forces that has Boston up, two games to none, heading to Philadelphia has been goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Rask had 24 saves last night in a 3-2 victory as both teams were tighter defensively than they had been in Game 1.

“It was definitely a less scoring game and less scoring opportunities and lots of battles and stuff like that,’’ Rask said. “It was a pretty good hockey game and they’re a tough team to play against.’’

Boston improved to 5-0 at home in the postseason. Rask said the team tried to match the Flyers’ desperation coming into the second game.

“It’s obviously big,’’ Rask said. “That’s what we wanted. We knew it is not that easy, but we battled through it and we got us a big goal in the third period that got us the lead. We have lots of character in this team and a lot of guys who are going to step up. When we play our game, things like that happen, so it’s good.

“We know what it’s like when you’re down one to nothing going into the second game. We did that in Buffalo, we were in the same situation. You know when the [opponent] is going to be desperate and you really have to match it and think like it’s a Game 7 — because if you’re not ready, it’s going to be a long night.

“Today I thought we did a pretty good job being ready right from the hop. There are certain things we’ve got to fix, but, [overall], a nice win.’’

Although the Bruins twice had a one-goal lead last night before letting the Flyers back in — similar to Game 1 that went to overtime — Rask said they expected the games to be tight.

“It’s been crazy, it looks like sometimes we just get the lead by two goals and we kind of shut it down for a little bit and give the other guys a chance to come back,’’ he said.

“They’ve been tight games and every team is good who is in the playoffs. There will be tight games and, so far, we’ve found a way to win those games at home.’’

The goals Rask gave up were to Mike Richards, who snapped home a shot from the right circle to make it 1-1 in the first period, and Danny Briere, fresh from the penalty box in the second period that made it 2-2.

“[Richards] got the puck and he walked in maybe a little too much,’’ Rask said. “I don’t know what happened. Our forward was late or something. He shot through a screen and beat me on the blocker side. The second one was an odd-man rush and a good shot.’’

Now that the series shifts to Philadelphia, Rask said the plan is the same even though they expect the Flyers to play even more desperately.

“At least we don’t have 18,000 people behind us,’’ Rask said. “That’s the only thing. Other than that, it’s the same game.

“We’ve been through a lot this year and we’ve seen highs and lows. We just try to stay even keel and don’t let anything rattle us no matter if we take the lead or we’re behind. We have a lot of character in this room and today was a great example of that.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at

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