Bruins did Tuukka Rask no favors


MONTREAL -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask had every right to complain about the mental mistakes and defensive breakdowns his teammates made during Tuesday's loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

But Rask's demeanor was so calm after the game no one would have known the Bruins had just lost 4-2 in Game 3 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series. With the win, Montreal took a 2-1 series lead.

Rask wasn't tested often (22 saves), but all three goals against the netminder (the fourth goal was an empty-netter) should have been avoided. 

The Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec scored the first goal at 10:57 of the first period. Rask had some miscommunication with defenseman Kevan Miller behind the net and the Bruins then failed to clear the puck. As a result, Plekanec was left all alone on the off post -- Jarome Iginla failing to cover him -- and Rask had zero chance of stopping the shot, Plekanec pumping it past the sprawling goalie.

"Yeah, I had so much time I flipped my stick and I should've maybe passed it on my backhand to Torey, but Millsy didn't see that guy coming in behind him," Rask said. "It was a turnover, and a couple of seconds later it's in our net."

Boston had another brain freeze less than five minutes later.

With time expiring on a P.K. Subban penalty, the Canadiens gained control of the puck and Lars Eller sprang Subban with a pass as he was coming out of the box. Subban broke in alone on Rask and beat the Boston goalie to give Montreal a 2-0 lead at 14:44.

After the game, Rask said he didn't bang his stick on the ice to let his teammates know that the penalty was about to expire.

"No, no I wasn't. That's part of my job too," Rask said. "I've got to let them know, but I looked at it and thought we had everything under control, stuff like that, so I decided not to and it ends up going in."

In the second period, the Bruins created a bit of a surge but weren't rewarded for their effort, and when Montreal scored its third goal, it served as a crushing blow. The Canadiens' Daniel Briere threaded a pass to Dale Weise, who broke in alone on Rask and beat him 5-hole to give Montreal a 3-0 lead at 13:52 of the second period.

Like the Plekanec goal, the two breakaway tallies should have never happened.

"No, no, of course not. Not with our system," Rask said. "But they happen and it's just mental mistakes, I guess, letting those guys behind us and not noticing the guy when the penalty was ending. It's disappointing but not a bad effort overall."

It was uncharacteristic of the Bruins to make such mistakes, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And no one can blame Rask for failing to stop either Subban or Weise on the breakaways. Prior to the game, the Bruins knew the importance of getting off to a strong start and not allowing the Canadiens to feed off their fans. Allowing two goals in the first period, both on total defensive breakdowns and mental mistakes, cost Boston the game.

"Just mentally we've got to be more prepared. Making those mistakes and giving the opposite team the lead, that's not a good thing every night," Rask said. "I think we have to be mentally sharper and do the things we talk about."

So far in this series, Montreal's Carey Price has been the better goalie. He has been outstanding in all three games and that's why the Canadiens lead the series. Rask claimed that his play "sucked" in Game 1, but he played better in helping Boston to a 5-3 win in Game 2.

In Game 3, Rask was left out to dry.

"Tuuks is playing great. He's a great competitor," Iginla said. "Some nights, unfortunately, you aren't as sharp in those areas in front of him, but he gives us a chance every single night. It's been like that all year and he gave us a chance even tonight to get back into it and come close. But close isn't good enough, and we'll get back at it next game."

Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk wasn't going to point the finger at his goaltender.

"He's bailed us out a lot of the time all year and that's why he's up for the Vezina," Boychuk said. "He's a great goalie. They get a couple of chances and bury them. He's usually there and he's such a great goalie. He's the backbone of our team."

Montreal has control of the series with Game 4 at Bell Centre on Thursday. Rask had every right to be upset after Tuesday's loss, but he had already filed it away and was focused on evening the series.

"I don't think we played bad, we just made stupid mistakes, which ended up costing us the game," he said. "We have to get rid of those and keep playing like we're playing and we'll get a win or two."