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Tuukka Rask shuts out Blackhawks as Bruins take Game 3 06.17.13 at 10:49 pm ET
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For once, overtime was not necessary between the Bruins and Blackhawks as the B’s took a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 at TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask picked up his third shutout of the playoffs (and the last seven games), as the B’s outplayed the Blackhawks in the most decidedly won game of the series thus far. Rask faced 27 shots, stopping them all .

The new third line of Chris Kelly between Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin was once again strong for the Bruins, scoring and drawing penalties. Paille opened the game’s scoring in the second period, and after drawn penalties from Kelly and then Paille, Patrice Bergeron made it 2-0 with his second power play goal of the series.

Tempers boiled over late in the game, with Zdeno Chara and Bryan Bickell going at it in in front of the net. As the two fought, Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw got tangled up in what was the hockey equivalent of Ross and Russ fighting in Friends.

Game 4 will be played Wednesday in Boston before the series heads back to Chicago for Game 5.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- Yes, it’s more impressive that the Bruins went four games without allowing a point to the likes of Sidney Crosby and some of the Penguins’ other offensive stars, but let’s realize that they’re doing it to the Blackhawks too. Patrick Sharp’s goal in Game 2, which was assisted by Patrick Kane and Michael Handzus, is the only goal the Blackhawks have gotten out of their top-six this series. As a result, the top two lines have been in flux for the Blackhawks. That wasn’t helped by Marian Hossa’s absence due to what is believed to be an injury suffered in warmups.

- Patrice Bergeron is a man. In addition to his six shots on goal in the first 40 minutes alone, he went 19-3 on draws in the first two periods, including a perfect 8-0 against Michael Handzus.

- It would have been logical to think the Bruins would have a hard time winning the Stanley Cup without Jaromir Jagr scoring, but his pass to Bergeron on Boston’s second goal was enough to quiet that talk. With Milan Lucic set up in front of the net on the power play and Jagr at the bottom of the right circle, Jargr sent a saucer pass through Lucic to Bergeron at the bottom of the left circle. Crawford, like everybody else, thought he pass was headed for Lucic in front, so he wasn’t in position to stop Bergeron, who took his time before firing a wrist shot into the plenty of open net he had to work with.

It wasn’t all good for Jagr, has he had a comically bad drop-pass to nobody in the final five minutes of the game that made for an easy turnover as Kane and the Blackhawks took it the other way.

- The Blackhawks are just wretched on the power play. They had just one shot on goal in their two first-period power plays combined, and it was the Bruins who had more scoring opportunities during Thornton’s power play. Rich Peverley had a scoring chance, Daniel Paille nearly beat Crawford to the puck when the Chicago goalie came way out of his net and Brad Marchand had a shorthanded breakaway in the final seconds of the penalty. He lost the puck while dekeing, which prompted him to break his stick on the bench afterwards.

- That third line is money, and I honestly don’t think there has been a stretch all season in which the Bruins’ third line has had two notable good games in a row. Paille had a heck of a game, getting to a loose puck from Bolland at the right circle and wheeling around to fire it past Crawford. He was rewarded for his season of strong offensive play by getting some power play time in the second period, and it was in the final 15 or so seconds on that power play that he drew a tripping penalty to set up the power play on which Bergeron scored.

Paille wasn’t the only third-liner to draw a penalty. Chris Kelly beat Bolland to a puck and got cross-checked by Bolland in the offensive zone in the second period to set up the power play on which Paille drew his penalty.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The Bruins aren’t playing their fourth line much this round, so they don’t need them taking penalties when they do get ice time. Both Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton took roughing penalties in the first period and were bailed out by the fact that Chicago can’t score a power play goal. It was a forgettable night in general for Daugavins, who was called for offsides twice — including what would have been a breakaway when he got out of the box, but he put himself offsides. You don’t see that every day.

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What they’re saying in the Windy City: Tuukka Rask is really good, Bruins are outhitting Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews needs to step it up at 1:09 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask continues to be stellar in the Boston goal. (AP)

Chicago sportswriters realized over the weekend what Bruins fans have known for quite some time: Tuukka Rask is really, really good.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes that Rask has been the Bruins’ “saving grace,” his 1.73 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the playoffs a huge reason the Bruins have gotten this far. She credits Rask, who collected 33 saves Saturday’s Game 2 overtime win, with preventing the game from “spinning wildly out of the Bruins’ control.”

Count Tyler Seguin among those appreciative of the netminder’s performance.

“He shows on a consistent basis why we have so much confidence in him, but he also gives us more motivation to do it for him sometimes,” Seguin said. “Especially if you look at [Saturday's] game, it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 after the first. We weren’t ready. We were on our heels, and they were playing great. He kept us in the game.”

Kane quotes Rask, however, as staying his usual, humble — albeit tired after not sleeping much Saturday night — self.

“I don’t try to prove anything to anybody else but for myself and my teammates,” Rask said. “I always feel like I’m in a zone. … It’s nothing different. It’s just another game.”

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Shawn Thornton on D&C: No excuse for Bruins’ slow start in Game 2, ‘can’t let it happen again’ at 9:50 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals leading into Monday night’s Game 3 at TD Garden.

The Bruins were outshot 19-4 in the first period of Saturday night’s Game 2, but some inspiring words in the locker room got the B’s motivated and they responded with a 2-1 overtime win. Thornton wouldn’t reveal which players led the talk, but he said the feeling in the room was mutual.

“We knew we were not good enough,” he said. “But we also brought up the fact that even though we were terrible, that was probably as good as they were going to be be, and maybe as bad as we were going to be, that Tuukka [Rask] gave us a chance to only be down 1-0. If we could regroup, then we could get things going.”

Thornton said while the Bruins started slow, the Blackhawks deserve some credit for dominating the opening 20 minutes.

“I don’t have a reasoning for [the slow start]. All I can say is it wasn’t good enough, and we can’t let it happen again,” Thornton said. “Give them credit, though. They came out flying. They were ready from the drop of the puck. They really pushed the pace. We’re fortunate to have [Rask] in there backstopping. If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a lot different.”

Pressed as to why the Bruins came out so flat, Thornton said: “I have no idea. My only thought is maybe it took 20 minutes for guys to get their legs underneath them after the long game [Wednesday]. But I don’t want to sound like excuses, because there isn’t. I have no idea why everyone wasn’t ready to go right from the drop of the puck. There’s no excuse for it.”

Thornton said he expects a stronger start in Game 3.

“It better be,” he said. “We’re at home, we should be able to feed off our crowd and be ready to go for the drop of the puck. The good news is it’s an 8 o’clock game [the first two games started at 7 p.m. Chicago time]. Last time we didn’t show up ’til 8.”

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Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins will win Cup; Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin ‘a loser’ at 9:26 am ET
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Don Cherry

Don Cherry joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, and the CBC Hockey Night in Canada analyst said he is sticking with his pick of the Bruins to win it all against the Blackhawks.

“They are going to win the Cup,” Cherry said point-blank. “I picked Boston all the way through.”

“It’s funny how the Bruins can turn it on like that,” he added, referencing the Bruins seemingly flipping a switch in the middle of Game 2 Saturday night. “It was like how it was against Toronto [in Game 7]. ‘Oh, 4-1? We’re going to turn it on for about 15 minutes.’ And that’s what they did in the overtime. If Chicago plays like they did in the overtime, it’s not going to go long.”

Part of that, the former Bruins coach said, was the result of the B’s consistently physical play, particularly after the first period.

“A few [Blackhawks] guys are hearing footsteps … and the defense gets rid of the puck early,” Cherry said. “Instead of taking their time a little, they know guys like [Milan] Lucic are coming, that little shot’s coming, and they get rid of the puck early.”

Cherry acknowledged that both goalies, Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, have been playing superbly, and he doesn’t expect any blowouts in either direction.

Cherry heaped praise on Rask in particular, even giving him the edge over Tim Thomas’ performance during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run.

“Timmy Thomas did play great — I’m not putting him down — but Rask is unbelievable,” Cherry said. “He is in a zone right now.”

Cherry also spoke highly of Tyler Seguin, saying he fully expects the young forward to start producing more soon. The key is giving Seguin, in the form of ice time and confidence, the opportunity to succeed. Now that that is starting to happen again, the puck should start to fall.

“When you don’t play, you’re not going to be anything,” Cherry said. “He was taken off the line when [Jaromir] Jagr came. How would I handle him? I’d play him to death. And when you play him to death, he’d come through for you.”

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Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘just as good’ as Tim Thomas in 2011 Cup run 06.16.13 at 3:18 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask spoke Sunday in front of his locker about the secret to his success so far. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The comparison has been obvious since the second round of this Bruins playoff run.

Is Tuukka Rask as good as Tim Thomas in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup on the strength of one of the best goaltending performances in Stanley Cup history?

In the eyes of Bruins coach Claude Julien, there’s no doubt.

“I think it’s just as good, no doubt,” Julien said of Rask, who is now 13-5 in the playoffs, a 1.73 goals against and a .944 save percentage. All of those numbers better the performance of Thomas when he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him.

“Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”

Rask gave his take on Sunday morning.

“For myself, that was the best I’ve ever seen, obviously,” Rask said of Thomas’ 16-9 record, with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs. “I’d never been that deep in the playoffs before and for me, as a spectator, that was the best stretch of goaltending I’d ever seen.”

The only area where Thomas has Rask beat right now is in shutouts (4-2), that and a Conn Smythe trophy, for now.

Rask did admit one thing Sunday – this is the best goaltending he’s played in his career.

“Probably, yeah,” Rask said.

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Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara finish fifth in respective awards 06.15.13 at 7:54 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask

CHICAGO — Everyone knew Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara weren’t going to win their positions’ awards this season when neither of them were announced as finalists after the regular season, but it was interesting to see where they finished.

Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was the winner of the Norris Trophy for the league’s top defenseman, getting 66 first-place votes (one more than runner-up Ryan Suter) from the Pro Hockey Writers Association and finishing with 1266 points to Suter’s 1230. Kris Letang (914) and Francois Beauchemin (290) also finished ahead of Chara, who was fifth with 289 points. Chara, who won the Norris in 2009, received 10 first-place votes. Also represented in Norris voting was Dennis Seidenberg, who was 21st in voting with four points (one fourth-place vote and a fifth-place vote).

Rask, meanwhile, was a rather surprising fifth-place finisher for the Vezina Trophy, which is voted on by general managers and given to the league’s top goalie. Rask received no first-place votes, getting three second place votes and three third-place votes. Blue Jackets’ net minder Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina with 110 points. Hernik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi and Craig Anderson also finished ahead for Rask.

Alexander Ovechkin took home the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player. Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to receive a vote, as he got a fourth-place vote and finished 17th in voting. Bergeron was named the winner of the King Clancy Trophy as the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘played with the heart of a champion’ 06.13.13 at 8:08 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and the ramifications of the Bruins’ marathon loss going forward.

Sure, the 4-3, triple-overtime loss was disappointing, McGuire said, but the Bruins don’t have much reason to be down on themselves going into Saturday’s Game 2.

“Boston played with the heart of a champion, and I don’t expect it to be anything different [the rest of the series]. It could be a long, hard series,” McGuire said. “I saw so many positive things from the Bruins. I saw a lot of positive things from the Blackhawks. These are the two best teams. There’s no Cinderella here. Both of these teams deserve to be in the Stanley Cup final.”

What will be interesting is when the series shifts back to Boston for Game 3 Monday and the Bruins get the last line change before the game time. McGuire suspects Claude Julien will match up Patrice Bergeron’s line with that of Jonathan Toews, and David Krejci’s unit with Michal Handzus.

Speaking of Bergeron’s line, McGuire also said Tyler Seguin is a likely candidate to play with Krejci and Milan Lucic should Nathan Horton be unable to play. Horton left Game 1 during the first overtime and did not return.

McGuire also expects Seguin, who has five points (one goal, four assists) and is a minus-2 in 17 playoff games, to break out soon.

“He wants the puck. He wants to make a difference. His speed is very apparent, especially at ice level,” McGuire said. “For those that weren’t at the morning skate [Wednesday], everything he shot went in. It was unbelievable watching him in practice. He was letter perfect with his passing and shooting. His skating is great. I just get the feeling he’s about the break out, I really do.”

McGuire gave much credit to goalies Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, even calling Crawford “superhuman” in the first overtime,” and said while Torey Krug’s crucial, third-period turnover was quite unfortunate, the defenseman can bounce back, just as the Bruins can.

“It’s a tough situation for a young player, an undrafted player, to go into the Stanley Cup finals,” McGuire said. “It was an egregious turnover. Obviously it ends up in the back of the net. Nobody wants to see that.

“But I thought he got better as the game went along. I know they weren’t afraid to use him in overtime, and he had some good chances. They used him on the power play, too, with [Dennis] Seidenberg. He’s a young player. He’s going to grow. I think he’ll be better off with the experience. Was it his best game? No. Was it a terrible game? No. He just made one bad mistake.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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