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Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask’s performance rates better than Tim Thomas’ in ’11

BostBruins goalie TuukkRask (40) makes save first period against Chicago Blackhawks during Game 2 NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals Saturday

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) makes a save in the first period against the Chicago Blackhawks during Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Saturday, June 15, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: CXA118

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Updated: June 18, 2013 6:25PM



BOSTON — The Bruins just had pulled off a job that seemed impossible Saturday in Chicago.

They somehow stopped the speeding Mack truck that was the Blackhawks’ offense in the first period of Game 2 and slowly but surely pushed it in reverse, seizing control of a game that was going horribly wrong and eventually winning 2-1 in overtime.

How exactly did they pull it off?

“I think the answer is Tuukka,” defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said.

New heroes have emerged from just about every game; Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin were a few new ones in Game 2. But in this heart-stopping playoff odyssey, the answer more often than not has been goalie Tuukka Rask. On Saturday, Rask added to his growing legend, stopping 18 of 19 shots in a lopsided first period. It allowed his teammates to find their legs, claw back into the game and eventually take it over.

Rask already had proven his worth, but the Game 2 performance further cemented his reputation as one of the top goalies in the league. As the Bruins head into Game 3 on Monday at the Garden, Rask leads the league with a .944 save percentage and is a close second to the Hawks’ Corey Crawford in goals-against average at 1.73.

With Rask backstopping, the B’s have not lost in regulation since Game 6 of the conference quarterfinals May 12.

Rask’s postseason numbers are better than those of 2011 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas (.940 and 1.98), who led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

“I think it’s just as good. No doubt,” said coach Claude Julien, comparing Thomas’ postseason to that of Rask. “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him. Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”

Asked if he felt like he was in “a zone,” Rask answered in typical fashion.

“I always feel like I’m in a zone,” said Rask, a hint of defiance coming through his placid demeanor. “Nothing different. Just like any other game. My job is really easy. Or really simple, not easy. Just stop the puck.”



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