NEW YORK – With the help of the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is building quite a resume in his quest to be the backup to Vezina Trophy-winner Tim Thomas.
Rask made 31 saves in a rare complete-game pre-season effort, and prospect Zach Hamill scored a first-period goal in the Bruins’ 2-1 victory over New York on Tuesday night.
Rask, who stopped 35 Rangers shots on Jan. 31 for a 1-0 victory in his only action with the Bruins last season, stymied New York again. A big test came in the second period when New York recorded 14 shots and had two power plays. The only blemish was Christopher Higgins’ third-period goal that made it 2-1 with 9:55 left.
“After I got a couple of shots, I felt normal and felt pretty good,” Rask said. “It was kind of hot out there, but otherwise I felt good.
“I think it was solid, no mistakes. The goal was a rebound but it was kind of a tough shot. The plan was to shut them down the whole 60 minutes, but unfortunately I gave up a goal.”
Rask is in competition with former Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Dany Sabourin for the No. 2 spot behind Thomas. Sabourin will play Wednesday night at Toronto.
“That’s where the competition starts,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “The number of shots (Rask) got, and how he handled some of those pucks … there was a lot of traffic in front of him, and he found ways to find the puck. That was certainly one of the bright spots.”
Hamill, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft, scored Boston’s first goal of the pre-season when he finished off a nifty tic-tac-toe passing play. The soon-to-be 21-year-old Hamill scored at the left post 7:30 in during a power play.
Boston, which posted the Eastern Conference’s top record last season, received three more chances with a man advantage in the first period but couldn’t capitalize. The Bruins stayed out of the penalty box in the opening 20 minutes and outshot New York 14-5.
“We were slow to start. I think that was a byproduct of all of the conditioning we were doing,” Higgins said. “We want to keep the pressure on teams, wear them down.”
Veteran backup Steve Valiquette started for the Rangers and stopped 18 of 19 shots before being replaced by Matt Zaba, who played 41 games for New York’s Hartford AHL affiliate last season.
Max Sauve scored a power-play goal against Zaba at 6:39 of the third period. Zaba stopped 15 of 16 shots.
No. 1 netminder Henrik Lundqvist got the night off for the Rangers, who will play at New Jersey on Wednesday night.
Regulars for both teams sat out the pre-season opener. New York was without prized free-agent acquisition Marian Gaborik, who missed the game due to tightness and soreness in his groin. Sean Avery also was held out of the lineup.
The Rangers were without forward Brandon Dubinsky, who is a restricted free agent.
Boston dressed Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, who was whistled for the Bruins’ first penalty – a holding call in the second period – but played without Thomas along with its top five scorers from last season: Marc Savard, David Krejci, Mark Recchi, Phil Kessel, and Michael Ryder.
Kessel is also an unsigned restricted free agent, and Krejci is injured.
Rangers enforcer Donald Brashear heard a strong amount of boos each time he touched the puck as he made his debut with New York. Fans still held a grudge against Brashear, a longtime nemesis from his days with Philadelphia and Washington.
Brashear was suspended during the first round of last season’s playoffs while with the Capitals because of a hit he delivered to the face of former Rangers forward Blair Betts, breaking bones and knocking New York’s top penalty killer out of the series.