TORONTO — Frustration showed on Tuukka Rask’s face in the wake of the Bruins’ 2-1 Game 6 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night.
So, too, did big beads of perspiration.
Rask and his mates now have to sweat out Game 7 on Monday night at TD Garden to decide their Stanley Cup quarterfinal series, after having blown two opportunities to finish off the Leafs before falling to them by twin 2-1 counts. This after Rask had once again done more than his part in the Boston net.
The fact that the Bruins failed to score more than one goal for the second game in succession was more than a little irksome to the feisty Finn.
“It’s really disappointing,” he said. “With a game like that, you can’t expect to win. They played really good throughout the series and [the Leafs] get rewarded.
“You’d like to score five goals every game, but that’s not going to happen. I’m just trying to keep the puck out of my net, and hope we can get the goals.”
In fact Rask, who was at his leather-flashing, rubber-legging best, kept every puck out of his net during the first two periods. Unfortunately for him, so did Toronto netminder James Reimer at the opposite end.
Rask countered each of Reimer’s highlight-reel saves with one of his own, including one eye-popping grab on Phil Kessel’s sharp drive late in the first period.
“Tuukka was awesome,” said veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “Like every game. He does that every game for us. You can’t ask for more from him. [But] if you only score one goal, a lot of times you end up on the wrong side.”
Rask has stolen more than his share of wins for the Bruins, both during and after the Tim Thomas era, and he seemed bound to pilfer another one from the Leafs when he snatched Dion Phaneuf’s rocket from the right point with 1.7 seconds remaining in the second.
“[He has a] heavy shot,” said Rask, who tracked Phaneuf’s blast from the moment it left his stick. “I stopped everything I saw.”
Then there were the pair he didn’t see, by Phaneuf and Kessel, the goals that gave Toronto a 2-0 lead in the third period.
Rask had his eyes set on shifty Leafs center Nazem Kadri, who swiveled across the top of the slot, before spotting Phaneuf cutting hard to the crease. Rask said he saw Bruins defensemen Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid crossing in front of him, and by the time he spotted the onrushing Phaneuf cutting behind the two, it was too late. The puck was past him and Toronto had the lead with 1:48 gone.
“He tipped it,” said Rask.
Likewise, Rask had little chance on Kessel’s goal, which came at 8:59 as the former Bruin swooped in for James van Riemsdyk’s rebound and parked a backhander.
Rask was watching the scrum that had developed in front of him, as Chara and Seidenberg both tried to dig the puck away from van Riemsdyk, the former University of New Hampshire star. That left Kessel free to clean things up at the left post.
“I don’t know where Kessel came from,” said Rask. “I didn’t see him. It looked like he had a lot of speed. He toe-dragged it in. I had no idea he was there. I was ready for the rebound and he whacked it.”
Rask, of course, presided over the Bruins’ crease back in 2010, the last time the Bruins surrendered a 3-1 series lead. (You remember that Philly cave-in from 3-0, don’t you?)
While he had no interest in rehashing history, Rask said the Bruins are well aware of what is at stake on Monday.
“You know what, I don’t even want to talk about that,” he said. “This is the playoffs and we want to focus on that. We haven’t played well enough to close out the series. [Monday] is the final chance.
“It’s one game [to] decide the season. We have to play our best game of the year.”