Matt Bartkowski had a perfect view of Ryan Callahan’s breakaway in the third period. Trouble was, Bartkowski and partner Johnny Boychuk were on the wrong end of it, staring at Callahan’s number as the Rangers captain peeled off for the potential game-tying strike.
“I was like, ‘Oh crap. Come on. This isn’t actually going to happen,’ ” Bartkowski recalled thinking.
Unlike Game 4’s wreckage of mistakes, the Bruins had submitted mostly an error-free Game 5. Until that Callahan breakaway.
Bartkowski was caught too far up the ice in the neutral zone. Boychuk was also out of position. So when Carl Hagelin slipped the puck past Brad Marchand and onto Callahan’s blade, the Bruins could do nothing but curse themselves and hope that Tuukka Rask would eliminate their goof.
That he did.
Rask waited for Callahan to make his move. In Game 2, Callahan slipped a forehand breakaway past Rask. After that goal, Bob Essensa, the Bruins goaltending coach, told Rask that Callahan rarely goes to his backhand.
Naturally, Callahan went backhand.
Rask didn’t panic. He stayed with Callahan’s move and punched out the shot with his blocker at 8:37 of the third. Rask kept Callahan from tying the game at 2-2.
“You know something is going to happen,” Rask said of the third period. “They’re going to throw everything they can at you and they’re going to try to tie the game. Today, it happened to be a breakaway. I just wanted to make one or two big saves in the third and hopefully keep that lead.”
Rask (28 saves) was money throughout the game. He didn’t see the only goal he allowed — a Dan Girardi power-play goal through a Brian Boyle screen.
Had Rask been softer mentally, he might have cracked under his Game 4 boo-boo.
When the Bruins were up 2-0 on Thursday night, the smooth-moving Rask turned into Tumblin’ Tuukka. Rask caught a rut, hit the deck, and watched as Hagelin scored a game-changing goal. The energized Rangers went on to claim Game 4 in overtime to extend the series.
Rask’s coaches and teammates evaluated the play appropriately — a rare mistake. They knew their goalie was too good to let it ruin his Game 5 approach. Rask proved them right.
“Those things happen, right? It happens to everyone,” Milan Lucic said. “I’m sure it was on the not top-10 plays of the day. I definitely think we can laugh about it a lot more now that the series is over.”
Rask outperformed Henrik Lundqvist in the second round. Rask gives the Bruins the edge in goal against Pittsburgh. The Penguins are riding backup Tomas Vokoun following Marc-Andre Fleury’s first-round flameout.
Lucic is now in a three-game pointless streak, his longest of the playoffs. But Lucic’s zeros on the Game 5 scoresheet did not represent his three-zone effort.
In 20:03 of ice time, Lucic ripped off three shots, threw six hits, and blocked two shots. At 13:27 of the first period, Lundqvist robbed Lucic with a sparking glove save.
At the other end, Lucic made a strong defensive play late in the second. Boychuk had pinched down the right-side boards, which allowed Derek Dorsett to carry the puck into the offensive zone. Lucic hustled back and flattened Dorsett to eliminate the scoring chance.
“When he picks up speed, he’s hard to stop,” coach Claude Julien said. “As you saw a couple times in the third period, when he carries the puck and picks up speed, he’s like a train. He’s hard to stop. He’s heavy and he leans in. I’ve liked his game since the playoffs have started.”
By ending the series on Saturday, the Bruins set themselves up for some much-needed rest. They were given Sunday off. They could resume practice on Monday in preparation for Pittsburgh. The Eastern Conference final is not likely to begin before the Western Conference second-round games conclude.
“I think it was important for us to end it for all the right reasons,” Julien said. “We wanted to move on to the next series. We’re looking to get a little bit of rest.”
The time off will give injured defensemen Andrew Ference and Wade Redden more days to heal. While Redden might not displace Torey Krug, a healthy Ference could push for a lineup spot.
First-round pick gone
The Bruins parted with their 2013 first-round pick by advancing to the Eastern Conference final. It was the condition in the Jaromir Jagr trade with Dallas . . . Bartkowski hails from Mount Lebanon, a Pittsburgh suburb. Bartkowski recalled having Jagr and Mario Lemieux posters on his wall. “It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be a blast,” Bartkowski said of playing his hometown team in the playoffs. “Growing up there, it was a lot of fun watching them. Now being able to play against them will probably be even more fun.” . . . Dennis Seidenberg didn’t look out of place in his series debut. Seidenberg, playing alongside usual partner Zdeno Chara, logged 23:37 of ice time. He had two shots and three hits . . . The Bruins recalled Niklas Svedberg from Providence on Friday to serve as the No. 3 goalie. Svedberg gives the Bruins an extra practice goalie. Rask didn’t participate in two practices in New York, which prompted Essensa to man the crease opposite Anton Khudobin. Svedberg will also benefit from experiencing the NHL playoff atmosphere. Svedberg projects to be Rask’s backup next season. Khudobin is an unrestricted free agent after the season . . . Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson, Kaspars Daugavins, Carl Soderberg, and Jay Pandolfo were the healthy scratches . . . Tickets for Bruins home games go on sale Sunday at noon. Games 3 and 4 against the Penguins will be at TD Garden. Game 6, if necessary, will also be in Boston. The dates have not been set. Tickets are available at TD Garden Box Office, on the Bruins website, or by calling 800-745-3000.