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Eight days after an overtime goal beat Rask and Pastrnak had the nerve to start the Bruins’ series with Washington without scoring a goal for three games, the Boston goalie and right wing shut up the gabbers along with the Capitals.
Rask stopped 40 shots in the Bruins’ series-clinching Game 5 victory Sunday. He stopped all 20 — yes, 20! — shots he faced in the second period. He finished the series against the league’s seventh-ranked offense with a .941 save percentage.
Remember the “how the hell did that goal go in?” talk after Nic Dowd’s tip beat Rask in Game 1 for Washington’s lone win? Rask answered it with a “how the hell did that puck not go in?” save on Conor Sheary midway through the first period Sunday.
Tuukka Rask denies Conor Sheary: pic.twitter.com/tvVEAzHff9
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 23, 2021
The quality of Washington’s shots didn’t match the volume, but still, Rask had to work harder than he probably had in the past two games. Once again he busted the myth about his struggles in elimination games (he’s now won five playoff series in the past three years) and did it with the calm you’ve come to expect.
“I felt good all series,” Rask said when asked about being “in the zone” in Game 5. “Obviously this game today was probably the most chances and shots they had all series, that’s one of the reasons why I looked like I was in the zone. Previous games you know I had six shots halfway through the game, and sometimes that’s harder. But it was just one of those games today that it was a lot of shots, but I was seeing the puck well, they didn’t create too much traffic for deflections and that always helps.”
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And then there’s Pastrnak, the Bruins sniper that didn’t score through the first three games of the series despite 19 shots on net, including nine in Game 3. He didn’t just snap his goal “drought” in Game 4 — on his 25th shot of the series — he also got the primary assist on Brad Marchand’s crucial goal.
But then there was the goal they’ll all be talking about someday when they pop open some brews and reminisce about Bruins-Caps 2021. Pastrnak undressed one of Washington’s best defensive forwards, Nic Dowd, and then dazzle goalie Ilya Samsonov to break the ice in Game 5.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) May 24, 2021
Those are not the saves or goals of players that don’t come through in the postseason. They’re definitely not the plays of world-class stars that should be disrespected or discounted the way Rask and Pastrnak have been over the past week, or — especially in Rask’s case — denigrated seemingly from birth.
You’d never know it if you listen to terrestrial radio, but Rask and Pastrnak are two of the best at their position in the entire NHL. And the brightest stars shine in the postseason, especially in close-out games. Pastrnak has 59 playoff points in 57 games. Rask has a career .927 save percentage. Keep telling yourself these guys don’t come through at the most important times. Maybe in the next round you’ll be right. (Spoiler alert, you won’t.)