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Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is unsure whether Tuukka Rask can go in Game 6

Tuukka Rask sat out the third period of Game 5 Monday.
Tuukka Rask sat out the third period of Game 5 Monday.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

The Bruins will not have Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, or Curtis Lazar. Starting goaltender Tuukka Rask is a question mark.

Other than that, they’re ready for Game 6 against the Islanders Wednesday.

“We need to go win a game,” coach Bruce Cassidy said Tuesday before boarding the team plane to Long Island. “That’s it. There’s nothing else.”

There will be no help from Carlo and Miller, both defensemen yet to be cleared to return after hits to the head. Neither will travel.

Same goes for Lazar, listed as day to day with a lower-body injury. The fourth-line center went into the boards awkwardly with Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech in the 5-4 loss in Game 5 Monday. His left knee appeared to bend backward.


“Good hit,” Cassidy said. “Unfortunately for Curtis, he came out on the wrong side of it.”

Rask’s status was ostensibly unknown Tuesday, which was a rest day for the Bruins’ regulars. He was at Warrior Ice Arena “going over stuff” with goalie coach Bob Essensa.

“He’ll get his treatment,” Cassidy said, “and we’ll find out [Wednesday] how he is, if he’s able to go or not.”

In his postgame comments Monday, Cassidy said he expected Rask — who stopped 12 of 16 shots in 40 minutes of Game 5 before he was pulled — would be ready to go. If not, 22-year-old rookie Jeremy Swayman would get the call.

Swayman had not played in a playoff game at the NCAA, AHL, or NHL level before relieving Rask to start the third period Monday. To his coach’s eye, Swayman made two quality saves, and let one quality chance elude him.

Jeremy Swayman, seen here in the third period of Game 5, could get the start Wednesday.
Jeremy Swayman, seen here in the third period of Game 5, could get the start Wednesday.Elise Amendola/Associated Press

“At the end of the day, do we win if we don’t pull Tuukka?” Cassidy mused, answering a question that was not asked. “I don’t know. I have no idea. We scored two goals and we let one in in the third.


“I thought we were pushing well. Didn’t go our way. Clearly when it doesn’t, you look back on it.

“But I’m not going to second-guess it, to be honest with you. It’s a decision we felt was the right one. We did it. We’re moving on, and we’ll see who gets the net in Game 6.”

Cassidy wouldn’t elaborate on what he termed “health issues” with Rask, who is believed to have suffered a lower back strain in early March. The coach did allude to potential fatigue. The 34-year-old Rask, who has not missed a playoff start (6-3, 2.20, .925), has started five games in the last 10 days.

“First of all with Tuukka, we’re happy with his performance,” Cassidy said. “He’s been better than he was yesterday, but we weren’t good enough in front of him as well. Let’s face it: You need your goaltender to bail you out when you’re not. It didn’t happen yesterday. It has happened in other games. It happened in previous series. We’re not dissatisfied with Tuukka’s play.”

Since winning the No. 2 gig from Jaroslav Halak in April, Swayman has dutifully prepared for action. He has been involved in every meeting. Cassidy would feel comfortable playing him.

He would rather they tighten up in front of Rask.

“We can’t be giving up those point-blank chances,” Cassidy said. “And when we do, we need him to make some saves for us. That’s the formula. That’s always been the formula. Especially in the playoffs.”


The Bruins will be back in Boston Friday. If they find a winning formula, they will be suiting up for Game 7. If not, they will be wondering how this series slipped away.

Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.