‘The best player on the ice tonight’: Tuukka Rask’s dominant effort helps Bruins keep season alive

He made 28 saves, including some remarkable ones, and only allowed one goal.

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask blocks a shot against the St. Louis Blues during the second period of Game 6 on Sunday.
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask blocks a shot against the St. Louis Blues during the second period of Game 6 on Sunday. –Scott Kane / AP Photo

Early in the second period of Game 6, nursing a one-goal lead and fighting to keep their season afloat, the Bruins benefited from multiple favorable bounces on the same play.

The puck ricocheted off the post, hit Tuukka Rask’s back, and momentarily soared through midair. Charlie McAvoy intervened and sent it toward Rask’s back once more, at which point Rask spun and deposited it away from the net. The sequence kept the St. Louis Blues from scoring and ultimately helped the Bruins cement a 5-1 win and force a Game 7.

While McAvoy bailed out his goaltender on that particular play, it was a microcosm of the entire evening for Rask, who could do no wrong in a sterling performance Sunday. Even in this rare moment of uncertainty, when he didn’t know exactly what was happening, he still managed to keep the puck out of the net.

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“I didn’t know where it was, and I figured it might be somewhere behind me, so I just tried to corral it with my hand behind my back, and then it stuck in my pants, and then it fell somewhere,” Rask told reporters. “I think Chucky made a great play to keep it out of the net originally, and, it’s never a good thing for a goalie to kinda be facing the play with your back, but luckily it stayed out.”

Besides that play, Rask had a great read on nearly everything that came his way. He saved 28 of 29 shots and made a series of spectacular saves throughout the night, becoming the 19th NHL goaltender to record 50 career playoff wins and requiring the 10th-fewest games (tied) in league history to do so, according to NHL Public Relations. His dominance earned the praise of his teammates and coaches.

“The best player on the ice tonight,” McAvoy told reporters.

Another highlight came four minutes into the first period, when Rask made a remarkable right leg pad save on a Brayden Schenn shot, looking like a gymnast meets first baseman considering the degree of difficulty.

His lone blemish of the night came in the third period with the Bruins ahead 3-0, but Boston added two more goals to squash any semblance of a comeback.

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“Good for Tuukka,” head coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters. “He’s allowed us an opportunity to play in a Game 7. I think the whole hockey world loves a Game 7. It should be a great night in Boston. May the best team win.”

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