Tuukka Rask is back.
For the moment, at least. He might be gone again by Tuesday. Maybe he'll leave a note this time.
The Boston Bruins netminder has had one of his most inconsistent seasons thus far. Rask is usually a lock for the Vezina Trophy conversation every year, yet this one feels different than most. His numbers aren't much to write home about: a 3.22 goals against average and a .891 save percentage both rank 37th in the league.
37th! There's only 30 teams.
Yet there are signs he's regaining his elite form. His previous two losses heading into Sunday were preceded by two strong wins with only one goal allowed across both. Whether he was actually turning the ship around hinged on his performance in Brooklyn against the Islanders.
It was his best of the season. In a tight, closely fought game the Bruins netminder faced 37 shots and turned away all but one. The lone goal was a bomb from 10 feet out by Johnny Boychuk as the Bruins fought off a 5-on-3 that he wasn't going to stop anyway.
Rask's struggles only added to the Bruins' woes as they built an early season deficit for themselves. Rask felt like Sunday was a turning point.
"I was good today. I felt good today. The best I've felt in a long time," Rask said. "Hopefully I can feel like that every game."
The Bruins and their playoff aspirations hope so too.
Dallas Stars 4, Detroit Red Wings 1
New Jersey Devils 4, Vancouver Canucks 3 (OT)
Boston Bruins 2, New York Islanders 1
Chicago Blackhawks 4, Edmonton Oilers 2
3 things we learned
1. New Jersey keeps rattling off wins
The Devils have now won eight of their last 10 games to get to five points behind the Metro Division-leading Rangers. The latest win came on Sunday on the back of their special teams. New Jersey killed off all six of the Canucks' power play opportunities, including a five-minute major assessed to Adam Larsson late in the third period that could've lost them the game.
2. Barclays Center doesn't understand NFL and NHL team names
Hey @barclayscenter, you have the wrong Jets. pic.twitter.com/sV7XwTNEG1— Tom (@Superstr4) November 8, 2015
Hey @barclayscenter, I never knew the @FlaPanthers were this good. pic.twitter.com/sxOIDWEwE3— Tom (@Superstr4) November 8, 2015
3. Val Nichushkin finally got on the board
One of the deadliest looking forwards on the Stars over the last two weeks has been Valeri Nichushkin. And yet, the young Russian forward hadn't scored a goal heading into Sunday. That finally changed when Nichushkin potted a rebound past Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard in the second period to give the Stars a 2-0 lead they'd hold on to. As if Dallas' offense wasn't threatening enough, a confident Val Nichushkin makes the Stars' attack that much more multi-faceted.
At this point it's a one-sided story, but there's no denying how upset Jordin Tootoo was after Alex Burrows allegedly made insulting remarks about Tootoo's family in the penalty box.
Rookie of the Night
I'm going to award this one to Vancouver Canucks rookies in general out of sympathy. First, Jake Virtanen was beat up pretty handily in a fight against Devils forward Bobby Farnham. Then Jared McCann got his head clipped by a hit from Adam Larsson that might get the Devils defenseman suspended.
Maybe this rookie of the night award will heal their battered souls.
Post to Post
- Speaking of bruises, Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp were rocked by each other during a friendly fire collision. Ouch.