Rask sets tone with strong start

BOSTON -- With four days rest to prepare for this highly-anticipated battle with the league-leading San Jose Sharks, Tuukka Rask was as cool under pressure as one of his coy postgame one-liners.

“Really? I thought nobody was talking about it because of the World Series,” he said, when asked about the buildup to a game in which he stopped 38 of 39 shots to lead the Bruins to a 2-1 victory.

As the Sharks came rocketing out of the gates, holding a 16-3 advantage in shots on goal through the first 20 minutes, Rask's defense kept things clean in front, forcing shots from out far that he could pick up easily.

“I just wanted to get a good start,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better when you face a lot of shots in the first period, you kind of get yourself into the game if you were able to save the pucks. It’s more of a mental challenge, to force yourself to be at work and fully aware of what’s going on out there.”

Asked if this was his toughest game personally this year, Rask conceded, “It’s up there, probably.”

After giving up a rebound goal to Patrick Marleau 18 seconds into the final period, Rask withstood another onslaught from the Sharks’ aggressive top lines. But he held in there with some acrobatic saves, stopping 13 shots in just the third period.

Rask said the approach here wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

“We obviously did our meetings, but not like anything special,” he said. “They’re really, really good with their sticks, and they throw pucks in your feet and try to create traffic in front, bouncing those loose pucks, and that’s what they did today, and they had some chances after those two.”

With his effort tonight, Rask improved his goals-against average to .974, second among NHL goaltenders this season behind Colorado’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere (.981).