By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
While Jordan Binnington was more worried about starting scuffles, Tuukka Rask was focused on stopping pucks.
The Bruins goalie not only out-shined his Blues counterpart on Sunday night, he turned in one of his most cold-blooded performances of what’s been a superb postseason. Rask stopped 28 of 29 Blues shots (.966 save percentage), including all 12 shots against the power play, in a do-or-die road win over St. Louis in Game 6. Boston now has a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup in its own building on Wednesday night in Game 7, and credit is due for the goaltender.
Though the Bruins pulled away in the third period, Rask made numerous tough saves in the first two periods. The Blues peppered him on four power plays in the first two periods, generating seven total scoring chances. Rask was there to stop them all. The Blues got easily the most pressure when on the man advantage, making Rask the Bruins’ most important player over the first two frames.
Rask gave an idea of how dialed in he was with an early stop on Brayden Schenn during the Blues’ first power play.
The domination continued in the second, though. This shot may have been going wide, but Rask snagged it with his glove to calm down another threat by the Blues. Just showed how sharp he was in general.
The play of the period, though – arguably the play of the game – happened when Charlie McAvoy batted a fluttering puck out of the air and Rask pinned it to his back with his glove long enough to get it out of danger. The Blues were that close to tying the game at that point and perhaps making it a completely different game. This play is more McAvoy than Rask, but it goes to show how Rask was willing and able to make any kind of unorthodox maneuvers to keep the puck out of the net.
Even when Rask gave up a goal, he made a pretty nice save.
Ryan O’Reilly did just enough to get the puck over the goal line once against Rask, so no shutout. But Rask had made 104 straight saves in elimination games prior to that score. The difference on Sunday was that it was the Bruins in danger of being ousted. Makes Rask’s night all the more heroic.
Simply a dominant night for the Conn Smythe trophy favorite. Rask has one more chance to finish off the Bruins’ opponent; he was great in each of the Bruins’ first three clinchers. His performance in Game 6 suddenly gives a lot of hope that he will shepherd the Bruins to their second Stanley Cup in nine seasons on Wednesday at TD Garden.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.