CHICAGO (AP) - A lesser goalie would have been flustered by the Chicago Blackhawks hot start.
Not Tuukka Rask.
After giving up a goal and withstanding another 18 shots in the first period Saturday night, the Boston Bruins goalie may as well have hung a “Not Open” sign on his net. While he stymied the Blackhawks, his teammates regrouped and found enough offense for a 2-1 overtime victory that sent the Stanley Cup finals to Boston tied at one game apiece.
“We definitely were in survival mode there for a bit,” Rask said. “It looked like they had more guys out there than we did. They were bouncing on every single puck in front of net, had a lot of chances. We definitely played pretty bad. But it was good we were only down by one, and we regrouped after that.”
Rask finished with 33 saves, including stopping Game 1 winner Andrew Shaw cold in OT.
Game 3 is Monday night in Boston.
“We had the perfect start to the game, then we stopped doing what made us successful,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
Well, Rask had a lot to do with that.
“He wasn’t lucky, he’s a good goalie,” Chicago’s Patrick Sharp said. “He doesn’t do anything different. He stops the puck when he sees it.”
Boston had the edge in goaltending coming into the series _ and not simply because Chicago is seemingly ready to replace Corey Crawford at the drop of a puck.
Rask was impressive enough last season that he made Stanley Cup winner Tim Thomas expendable, and the 26-year-old from Finland has taken his game to another level this postseason. He came into the series with the highest save percentage (.943) of the playoffs, and limited the high-octane Pittsburgh Penguins to a measly two goals in a four-game sweep by the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Blackhawks made Rask look mortal in Game 1, tagging him for four goals _ more than he’d given up in Boston’s previous five postseason games combined.
It wouldn’t happen a second time.
Chicago came out flying Saturday night, peppering Rask with rapid-fire shots, trying to sneak up on him from behind and playing hot potato with the puck in front of the net in hopes of catching him off-guard and slipping one past. Boston coach Claude Julien called the effort “totally lopsided.”
“The first period, we just weren’t there. We were on our heels,” Julien said. “They had total control of that period. Tuukka kept us in there.”