Tuukka Rask has been the great equalizer: A lot of has transpired through the first 180 minutes of play in the Eastern Conference Final — the continued dominance of the Coyle Line, goaltending switches, Justin Williams blowing a gasket, etc. etc.
Plenty of storylines and narratives have been crammed into the first three meetings between the Bruins and Hurricanes, but the one thing has remained a constant throughout this series — and the postseason as a whole — has been the play of Tuukka Rask.
“He was the difference maker,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said of Rask minutes after Boston’s 2-1 win on Tuesday night, putting the Bruins just one win away from a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Rask continued to excel as the best player on the ice in Game 3 — turning aside 35 of the 36 shots that came his way — including all 11 pucks fired in over 8:34 of 5v4 play in favor of Carolina. Rask was at his best in the opening stanza — going a perfect 20-for-20 in saves through the first 20 minutes to keep his club afloat in enemy territory.
For as much flak as Rask has received over the years, Boston’s netminder is locked in at the perfect time for the Bruins — and has the B’s on the brink of the fourth and final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Carolina’s power play is going to be the nail in its coffin: Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves — eh, let’s do it anyway.