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Bruins hope Rask is up to the task

April 22. 2018 8:53PM

Tuukka Rask will be in the Boston Bruins goal for Game 6 against the Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre.

Bruce coach Bruce Cassidy was emphatic in his support for Rask following a voluntary practice Sunday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.

“Tuukka tomorrow, ready to roll,” Cassidy said.

Rask gave up four goals on 13 shots before getting yanked in Saturday night’s 4-3 loss at TD Garden in an elimination match for the Leafs. The setback elevated Rask’s goals-against average in the playoffs to 2.90 and dropped his save percentage .904.

Rask recovered from the Bruins 4-2 loss in Game 3 with 31 saves in Boston’s 3-1 win in Game 4 in Toronto. Cassidy sees a history in that quick turnaround and expects Rask will be at the top of his game.

“I thought in Game 3 he was average and he came back with a very good game in Game 4 in Toronto,” said Cassidy. “So I guess I’ll take the immediate history and it is clear that we need that going in there.

“Last night (Saturday) he was not at his best so we made a move accordingly. But our don’t think our team was at its best defending in front of him in terms of killing rushes and we allowed them too much space and that goes hand in hand.”

Rask played in 54 games in the regular season and finished with a 34-14-5 record with a 2.36 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. Rask’s record inspires confidence from teammates going forward into the playoffs.

“He’s a competitor and always is,” said left wing Brad Marchand. “He holds himself accountable for (Saturday) night and it wasn’t just on him, we could have been better in front of him ourselves and collectively as a group we need to be better.”

Despite Saturday’s result, Rask noted that he felt good going into the matchup, especially following his 31-save effort just a few days earlier in Game 4.

“I felt good. Sometimes you track pucks better than other days,” Rask said after the game.. “Today, as you can probably tell, I wasn’t tracking the puck very well and it happens sometimes. Too bad it happened today.”

While Rask and the Bruins surrendered the first two goals of the contest in the opening 10 minutes of play, both tallies were not solely on the goalie.

Connor Brown opened the scoring at 6:36 after batting the puck out of the air and past Rask, while a great pass from Nazem Kadri allowed Andreas Johnsson to slip behind Charlie McAvoy and bury Toronto’s second goal from in close less than four minutes later.

After that, however, Rask failed to sustain any momentum that the Bruins generated, surrendering a goal to Tyler Bozak at 10:36 in the second — less than a minute after David Backes scored on the power play to make it a 2-1 game.

“I didn’t have too many shots out there,” Rask said. “But you know, it’s just one of those ... you’re fighting it. Those first two goals had nothing to do with tracking, but you know, just really never got into the game and couldn’t make those stops that I should’ve made to keep the game tied.

“Especially that third goal, we scored to get the momentum going and then they get a chance and you know I couldn’t stop the puck there, so those are tough ones, but as I said, it happens.”

Boston Herald and reports