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For 20 minutes, Rask up to the task

Chris Kelly (center) had some company when celebrating his insurance goal. Chris Kelly (center) had some company when celebrating his insurance goal. (Paul Vernon/Associated Press)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 11, 2011
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COLUMBUS, Ohio - After 40 minutes of watching Tim Thomas last night, Tuukka Rask was informed that he would be on the ice for the final 20.

“Yeah, a little,’’ Rask said, when asked if he was surprised to get the call. “But you’ve just got to be ready. That proves it again. You never know what can happen. You’ve got to stay focused for 60 minutes.’’

Last night marked the second time Rask has replaced Thomas during a game this season. The first time, however, was for a different reason. On Oct. 29, the Bruins were trailing the Canadiens, 3-2, late in the third, and coach Claude Julien swapped out Thomas for Rask to gain several moments of rest for his players.

This time, it was because Julien believed Rask gave his club a better chance to win - even though the Bruins had 1:54 remaining on a Milan Lucic tripping call to start the third.

“I had the intermission time to think about it,’’ Rask said. “You can’t say it’s good to start off like that on a penalty kill. But if you get shots, get your sweat going, and feel good about yourself, it helps. It’s better that way than standing around for 10 minutes and not getting a shot at all. If you let in a goal or two, that might hurt you. But today, it turned out to be a good period for me. We got the win.’’

The day didn’t start out well for Rask. During an optional morning skate at Nationwide Arena, he took a Shawn Thornton shot off the mask. Rask was stunned briefly, but completed the session, which Thomas opted to decline.

But Rask finished the night looking smooth in an 11-save performance. He will likely get the nod on Tuesday against the Kings at TD Garden.

Caron fills in

Jordan Caron was in the lineup for the second time in the last three games. On both occasions, however, misfortune had befallen one of his teammates.

Last Tuesday, several hours before the Bruins squared off against the Jets in Winnipeg, Caron was informed he’d be replacing Tyler Seguin because the second-year pro had missed a team breakfast and meeting that morning.

Last night, Caron replaced Daniel Paille, who is day to day because of a concussion suffered in Thursday night’s loss to the Panthers. Paille absorbed the head injury when Krys Barch thumped him with a clean hit. Yesterday, Julien reported that Paille was improving and had a positive recovery day on Friday.

But until Paille’s symptoms wane, Caron will be in the lineup on the fourth line, skating alongside Gregory Campbell and Thornton.

“He plays a pretty strong, heavy game,’’ Julien said of Caron. “He may not have the same speed as Dan has, but he certainly has some good puck skills. He’s strong along the boards. I think he’ll be a good fit on that line.’’

Prior to this three-game stretch, Caron had seen more time in the press box than on the ice. The Bruins have been healthy, and they’ve been winning. Thus, Julien has been slow to tinker with his lineup.

So with Caron entering a seven-game string of being a healthy scratch, the Bruins had to find him some playing time. On Dec. 1, they assigned Caron to Providence prior to their two-game trip to Pittsburgh and Winnipeg. In a pair of AHL games, he had a goal and an assist while playing in all situations.

“I thought it was pretty good for me to go there,’’ Caron said. “Because of those two games, I don’t think I lost too much.’’

Caron played 10:24 last night, including 2:59 on the penalty kill.

Lucic atones

In the first period, after RJ Umberger walloped Lucic with a clean hit, the Boston left wing retaliated by slashing Umberger, then cross-checking him in the back. Lucic was tagged with a double minor, which the Bruins killed.

“It was a good hit,’’ Lucic said. “Obviously, nobody likes getting hit like that. I probably shouldn’t have taken the penalties that I did, but the guys bailed me out by killing the two penalties. I was able to make amends for it by assisting on two goals to end out the period.’’

Lucic had a helper on Joe Corvo’s first goal as a Bruin. After the following faceoff, Lucic connected with Nathan Horton in the slot for his second assist. Lucic was credited with a third assist on Zdeno Chara’s second-period power-play goal.

“It’s never a great thing when you put your team down,’’ Lucic said. “I probably shouldn’t have taken the extra cross-checking penalty there. But for myself personally, when I’m playing with an edge and kind of mad, that’s when I’m at my best. After that, I was kind of fired up and able to find my game.’’

Return bout

Thornton and Jared Boll engaged in a first-period bout. The fight didn’t have the fireworks of their previous dustup Nov. 17 at TD Garden. That night, Thornton was angry because he thought Boll had thrown a late punch upon the fight’s conclusion. Last night, Thornton scraped off Boll’s helmet, landed punches with both fists, and scored the takedown . . . Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett suffered a leg injury in the second period and didn’t return. Dorsett drove to the net, tripped after colliding with Thomas, and crumpled along the boards. Dorsett needed help to leave the ice, and was called for goaltender interference, one of several questionable calls by referees Ian Walsh and Brian Pochmara last night . . . Steven Kampfer was the healthy scratch.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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