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Task proves to be difficult for Rask

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / October 19, 2011

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In Tuukka Rask’s first start of the season, when the Bruins were playing Colorado at TD Garden, the Avalanche eked out a 1-0 victory. Despite landing 30 shots on goaltender Semyon Varlamov, Boston couldn’t generate any goals for Rask.

Last night, against the Hurricanes at the Garden, tallies again were hard to come by. For the first two-plus periods of the penalty-marred contest, the ’Canes got the better of Boston and carried a 2-0 lead into the third.

Although the Bruins cut the deficit in half when Rich Peverley scored on the power play at 10:59, Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen proved to be the bane of their existence, figuring in the Hurricanes’ first three goals as the visitors earned a 4-1 victory. Pitkanen scored once and added two assists and Tuomo Ruutu closed the door with a five-on-three goal at 14:58 of the third.

For Rask (19 saves), it was a challenging evening with the Hurricanes having eight power plays, including three two-man advantages. When asked if that was the most five on threes he’d faced in a game, Rask said he was sure it was.

“It must have been,’’ he said. “I don’t know what happened there. I lost count after the first two, but yeah, definitely.’’

It became clear as the third period limped along - with the Bruins racking up 57 minutes in penalties and coach Claude Julien earning an ejection - that the team had reached a new level of frustration. Rask said the multiple power plays were taxing.

“It’ll eat you alive for sure,’’ he said. “Probably some part of that was our own fault, too, definitely. It’s going to take your game away, it’s going to take your momentum you had before. That’s what happens. I didn’t have that many shots even. Guys did a good job on that, but you’ve just got to be constantly ready for that shot and moving all the time so I think that eats you more than the shots.’’

In another rarity reminiscent of Patrick Roy, Rask skated the length of the ice at 14:19 of the second period, taking issue with Carolina goalie Cam Ward’s treatment of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

“I just asked him why he jumped our guys,’’ said Rask, who was given a two-minute minor for leaving the crease. “It was a mistake probably for my part, too. I didn’t know you can’t cross the red line.’’

Rask actually slowed down near the red line to gauge the situation before proceeding the rest of the way to confront Ward.

“I was looking around at what was going to happen there and I skated over,’’ he said.

Rask said he’d never spoken to Ward before.

“I heard he’s a nice guy, though,’’ he said.

Ward said he was surprised to see another netminder in front of him.

“I didn’t take it as a serious threat,’’ said Ward. “It is what it is, nothing. I don’t even know what was said. Obviously, my heart rate didn’t get up or anything. Basically, I told him to get down back in his own end and he did.’’

Rask said he was prepared to drop the gloves if necessary.

“I guess you’d have to be, right?’’ he said. “I’m not much of a fighter. But if that’s what the situation needs then I guess you have to do that, but it didn’t happen so that was good for everybody.’’

When the Bruins play an ornery game, it usually bodes well. But last night, it didn’t. It hurt them instead.

“I guess it’s a fine line to go overboard when it’s going to harm your game,’’ said Rask. “Today, it definitely did. We came pretty hard in the third and got that goal and made it a game. But then we shot ourselves in the foot after that and things kind of turned around, but it’s hockey. It’s one game. We’ve just got to learn from these and maybe control our emotions a little more next time.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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