While he didn’t steal the game per se, Boston Bruins Tuukka Rask was the difference between victory and defeat for the New York Islanders. In a 2-1 OT loss in Game 3, Rask was at his best making 28 saves for the win.
When you look at the advanced analytics of the game the Islanders probably should have won Game 3. At 5on5, both teams were deadlocked in xGF at 2.07. But on the power play, the Isles held a 0.93 xGF to Boston’s 0.
According to the data, the Islanders did enough to create three goals on the night. They only got one. The reason? Tuukka Rask.
Tuukka Rask comes up big to stop New York Islanders in Game 3
Goaltending was going to be the one difference between the Pittsburgh and Boston series. While Tristan Jarry was good during the regular he wasn’t the same goalie in the playoffs. That wouldn’t be the case for the ever-excellent Tuukka Rask.
The Islanders were going to have a harder time scoring against him. The Isles weren’t going to be able to rely on shooting high-glove for goals on Rask. They’d have to make him move and block his vision to get pucks past him, Just as they did in Game 2.
In Game 3, Raks was able to track the puck well. He saw just about everything that was shot at him. For a goalie of Rask’s status, if he sees the puck, he’s likely going to stop it.
Again, the Isles did well enough to get a win last night. The decisive goal came against the run of play and can be only described as a lucky shot. Marchand’s OT winner was shot from a bad angle in a low-danger area that just happened to catch Varlamov slightly out of position.
But this game doesn’t get to OT if not for Rask or even Semyon Varlamov for that fact.
Down 2-1 Before
The sky is not falling. The series is not over. The fact that the Islanders are down 2-1 in their second-round series isn’t great. But this was never going to be an easy series. And it’s not like the Islanders haven’t already been down 2-1 before.
After losing games two and three to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round, the Islanders rallied for three straight wins to take the first round. Winning three in a row against Boston is improbable, but winning the series isn’t.
The Islanders played well enough for a win yesterday. They’ll have to continue that form the rest of the way and hope that Tuukka Rask has an off day or two.