(Reuters) - The Chicago Blackhawks are finding out what the Pittsburgh Penguins already knew - that Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask is pretty good.
The ice-cool Finn was unbeatable again on Monday, stopping all 28 shots he faced to backstop the Bruins to a 2-0 win over Chicago and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals.
It was Rask’s third shutout in his last seven games, putting him at the top of the list of Conn Smythe Trophy candidates for the Stanley Cup playoffs most valuable player.
After picking up a pair of shutouts against Sidney Crosby and the high-powered Penguins in a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference final, Rask has been equally as stingy against Chicago, posting a sensational .960 save percentage.
”He’s been focused since day one of the playoffs,“ Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters. ”You watch him on off days, you watch him, he’s quiet, focused, calm.
”Right now, all his energy is put towards his game. When the game starts, he’s a focused individual.
“I’ve never seen a guy so calm, obviously confident with the way he’s played. Probably quietest I’ve seen him so far, but in a good way.”
The Bruins defense has also done its part, keeping the front of the Boston net clear and forcing the Blackhawks to take most of their shots from the perimeter. But when called upon, Rask has been virtually unbeatable in the last two games.
”They had shots, but most of them came from the outside,“ Rask said. ”We eliminated a lot of those rebound opportunities.
”They shot high shots from off the wing and I was able to just catch a lot of them with my glove.
“Then a few loose pucks were lying around there. Our ‘D’ (defense) or forwards took care of that.”
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville conceded that Rask had been solid but limited his praise, explaining that his team was making life easy for the relaxed Finn.
”We ran up against some of the best goalies in the league here,“ Quenneville said. ”Tonight I thought we made it rather easy on him as far as traffic and finding and seeing pucks.
“I think we got to be better at going to the net in non-puck areas.”
Editing by John O'Brien