BOSTON – Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien has long insisted that he has two No. 1 goalies.
Only now is Tuukka Rask getting the chance to prove it.
Appearing in his second straight game, Rask stopped 41 shots for his first shutout of the season on Tuesday night while leading the Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Brad Marchand scored twice as Boston played without top defenceman Zdeno Chara and top goalie Tim Thomas.
“It’s something every team wishes they had, that luxury with two guys. And we have that,” Julien said after giving Thomas the night off to rest him for Wednesday’s game in Ottawa. “Whenever called upon, Tuukka made big saves.”
Rich Peverley also scored for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who won for the 16th time in 19 games despite playing without Chara because he injured his left knee in Saturday’s game in Columbus.
Julien said Chara would make the trip to Ottawa for Wednesday night’s game.
Rask spent last season as the backup for Thomas, who won the Vezina and the Conn Smythe Trophies while playing every minute of Boston’s post-season run to the title. Rask needed more than a month to get his first win this season and was playing a little less than once a week before relieving Thomas on Saturday night after he allowed three goals in the first two periods against Columbus.
Rask shut out the Blue Jackets the rest of the way, then extended his scoreless streak to 95 minutes, 10 seconds on Tuesday with his first shutout since March 1. He faced 13 shots in the second period and 20 in the third.
“We were just trying to protect our lead,” Rask said. “Probably some part of that is ‘Z’ missing, but we also need to tighten things up.”
Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots for the Kings, who lost their fifth consecutive game and their first since coach Terry Murray was fired on Monday and replaced with assistant John Stevens in an attempt to awaken the underachieving team from its early-season slumber.
“There’s going to be things that go on outside the locker room that you can’t control,” Quick said. “No matter what happens, you’ve got to come into the game with the same mentality.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on, but that’s no excuse. You can’t take stuff like that and call it as a distraction and use it as a reason not to win the game.”
Stevens said he liked what he saw, in spite of the result.
“I really thought they expended a lot of energy tonight trying to win a hockey game,” he said. “I really thought they acted like professionals tonight and really tried to focus on the game and trying to win.”
Los Angeles, which had not reached the playoffs in eight years, made consecutive post-season appearances under Murray, who compiled the best winning percentage (.560) of any coach in franchise history. But he was fired when a four-game losing streak dropped the Kings to 13-12-4.
Despite adding Mike Richards and Simon Gagne in the off-season, the Kings have not scored more than two goals in a game in nine tries since Thanksgiving—an NHL-worst 2.24 goals per game—while falling to 11th in the Western Conference standings.
But they weren’t any more successful on Tuesday under Stevens.
Peverley made it 1-0 in the first, then the Bruins took a 2-0 lead in the second when Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff and slid it back to Marchand for the wrist shot. In the third, the Bruins again scored after a faceoff—this one not as clean, but clean enough for Marchand to collect the puck and skate in front before beating Quick with 14:25 to play.
NOTES: Rask had never faced Los Angeles. … The Bruins were also without F Gregory Campbell (foot). … Daniel Paille, who sustained a concussion on Thursday, returned after missing just one game. … The Kings began a four-game road trip. … Since coming to Boston in 2006, Chara has missed only 13 games, and the Bruins are 5-5-3 in those games.