|Tuukka Rask made 26 stops in the first two periods alone against Colorado on Monday. (Getty)|
BOSTON – Tuukka Rask certainly had his struggles during the 2010-11 season, but there were plenty of nights where zero goal support cost the young netminder a victory.
Such was the storyline on Monday afternoon, as a 35-save performance from Rask was all for not in the Bruins 1-0 loss to the visiting Avalanche.
“When Tuukka plays a game like he did tonight we have to come through for him,” winger Brad Marchand said. “So we didn’t do it and left him stranded for a bit. He gave us an opportunity to win. We just didn’t capitalize when we needed to.”
For Rask to play so well in his first regular season start since April, only to wind up on the losing end, was especially frustrating for the rest of the team.
“He played awesome,” Marchand said. “He made a ton of big saves. (Colorado only scored) through a screen on the goal there. He gave us every opportunity to win. He played an amazing game. It was by no means his fault.”
Rask admitted he had a case of the butterflies before the puck dropped, but you’d never have guessed it while watching the opening stanza. By the time the first period was halfway through, the 24-year-old netminder had already made 10 stops, as Colorado had the lion’s share of scoring chances.
“Not bad,” Rask said when asked how he felt. “I was telling ‘Timmy’ [Tim Thomas] before the game, you have that little nervousness in you because it’s the first game and haven’t played in a long time in a real situation. So I felt kind of weird before the game. But once the puck dropped and I go into that groove I felt pretty good.”
The Avs couldn’t crack Rask until the third period, as a shot with eyes by Milan Hejduk trickled by him for the only goal of the contest. Unfortunately for No. 40, that was all Colorado needed.
“Yeah, that’s what happened right?” Rask said when asked about the team not being to score when he’s between the pipes. “But still, a win is all that matters. It doesn’t matter if you lost ten-nothing or one-nothing, it’s still a loss. But we definitely didn’t play our full sixty minute effort today, that’s for sure.”
While undoubtedly disappointed to not come out on top on Monday, Rask’s approach remained realistic, as there’s still plenty of starts to look forward to in 2011-12.
“Yeah, I know right. What can you do?” he said of being the hard-luck loser. “I mean, whatever. It’s the first game of the year, it happens a few times a year and obviously it gets kind of frustrating but I’m not worried about it yet, no.”
If the Bruins honor their word, Rask won’t have to be perfect every time out in order to earn a victory.
“You can’t ask for much more than how he played today,” said Milan Lucic. “He kept us in it the whole night and gave us a chance to win it. And it sucks on the other end. As one of our players, we weren’t able to do anything for him on the other end.”
For Rask’s sake alone, here’s to hoping that won’t be the case the next time he gets the nod.