Tuukka Rask did not appear to be hurt when he left Saturday’s game. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
The Bruins got a big lead on the Rangers early and then held on for a 4-2 win without their most important player.
After Boston put three pucks past Henrik Lundqvist in the first period, Tuukka Rask left the game 10 seconds into the second. At the period’s first stoppage, he said something to referee Jean Hebert, after which Herbert permitted him to head to the bench. Rask’s skating was fine and he did not appear to be in noticeable pain as he headed to the tunnel.
Niklas Svedberg came in to spell Rask with the Bruins leading. The B’s added to it with Reilly Smith’s 13th goal of the season, though Rick Nash would net his 40th goal of the season to get the Rangers on the board.
The Bruins offered no update on Rask until they said he was “unlikely to return” to the game with seven minutes left. Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa changed into goalie equipment and was ready as the team’s emergency goaltender.
The win netted the Bruins a pair of much-needed points, improving them to 87 points on the season through 75 games. The Senators, who have 85 points in 73 games entering their Saturday night contest against the Leafs.
Here are four more things we learned Saturday:
LUCIC NETS TWO
Though they gave Kevin Hayes’ line ample opportunities, Ryan Spooner’s line with Milan Lucic and David Pastrnak once again produced.
Lucic had a pair of goals (the first of which came with Patrice Bergeron on the ice for Spooner on an early shift) to bring him to 17 goals on the season. Lucic’s second goal came as a result of some pretty passing from Spooner and Torey Krug.
With Saturday’s performance, here are the updated numbers for the Lucic-Spooner-Pastrnak line:
5-on-5: 8 GGF, 2 GA
Partial 5-on-5 (two members of line): 2 GF, 3 GA
4-on-4: 1 G
SMITH AND SODERBERG GET IN ON THE ACTION
There were plenty of positives for the Bruins Saturday, but none were bigger than the fact that both Reilly Smith and Carl Sodeberg can feel good about their games for the first time in a while.
Smith had as pretty a shift as he’s had all season when he executed a quick self-pass up the boards in the defensive zone before racing through the neutral zone and dumping the puck off to Torey Krug. The play was capped by Smith taking a feed from Loui Eriksson and beating Lundqvist from the slot to make it 4-0.
Earlier in the game, Soderberg knocked the puck away from old friend Matt Hunwick in the neutral zone and caught up with it for a breakaway. He then deked and beat Lundqvist with a wrist shot for his 12th goal of the season.
KICKING OFF THE SCORING
Boston’s first goal looked like a sure thing to be disallowed, but the Bruins, a game after perhaps falling victim to a bad non-call, got some help from the officials.
Patrice Bergeron‘s shot on Henrik Lundqvist on an early first-period rush yielded a mammoth rebound. With Lucic going hard to the net, the puck went off the side of his skate and, because of his momentum, fired into the net as if the puck had been shot. The play was immediately called no-goal on the ice, with replays showing little to suggest there was no distinct kicking motion.
(GIF courtesy of @PeteBlackburn and Days of Y’Orr)
Perhaps to the surprise of many, the call on the ice was indeed overturned after a video review. The league offered the following explanation following the ruling:
At 1:41 of the first period in the Rangers/Bruins game, video review determined that the puck deflected off Milan Lucic‘s skate and into the net in a legal fashion. According to Rule 49.2 “A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player’s skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal.” Good goal Boston.
Without Dougie Hamilton, it seems the Bruins will mix and match on their back end more than they usually do.
Saturday’s line rushes saw Zdeno Chara paired with Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug with Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski with Zach Trotman. As was also the case Thursday, Claude Julien wasn’t afraid to move guys around in-game.
Trotman skated most of his shifts the first two periods with Chara, which he did often last Sunday against the Lightning. Seidenberg saw ample time with both Krug and McQuaid, with Bartkowski playing mostly with McQuaid.