Tuukka Rask bounced back from a rare rough patch to salvage a win for the Boston Bruins on their California swing.
Rask made 26 saves for his NHL-leading fifth shutout two nights after being knocked out early, and the Bruins got a third-period goal from Carl Soderberg to beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 on Saturday night.
“That was Bruins hockey,” said Rask, who gave up three goals in less than 22 minutes in a loss at Los Angeles on Thursday. “That’s how we get points in this league. Sometimes we slip from it but today was a great example of how we need to play in order to get points. I’m really happy with the effort.”
Rask gave up eight goals on the first two games of the trip as the Bruins were outscored 9-4 in losses at Anaheim and Los Angeles. But they rebounded in San Jose to sweep the season series and hand the Sharks just their second home loss in regulation all season.
Soderberg broke the tie with 7:35 remaining at the end of a broken play when Loui Eriksson’s shot was blocked by Scott Hannan. Soderberg got the loose puck and knocked it past Antti Niemi for his sixth goal to salvage the finale of Boston’s three-game California swing.
“A goal’s a goal in this league,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “You get some tough ones that go against you so every once in a while it’s good to have some go for you. That’s the breaks of the game, and sometimes you have to make them yourself.”
Niemi made 21 saves for the Sharks, who had their six-game home winning streak snapped and were shut out at home for the first time since Feb. 9, 2013, in a shootout loss to Phoenix.
“Both teams weren’t giving up too much,” captain Joe Thornton said. “One shot in the third period made all the difference. Both goalies did an excellent job. When you do get a good chance they were there to block it.”
Niemi kept the Sharks in the game shortly after Soderberg’s goal when he made a strong stop on a backhand by Brad Marchand but the Sharks couldn’t get anything past Rask on 26 shots.
The game featured a pair of goalies who will be teammates for Finland at the Olympics next month. Rask and Niemi both made a case for the starting gig by stopping 47 of the 48 shots.
“I don’t think either one had to be really unbelievable,” Rask said. “Both teams played tight defense and we just scored that one goal that have us the win. It wasn’t about showing off.”
Neither goalie faced too many good scoring chances in a tight opening two periods that featured one power-play chance for each side and a brief fight between Boston’s Kevan Miller and San Jose’s Mike Brown.
The Sharks looked disjointed on their power-play chance in the first period with Soderberg off for boarding, getting only one shot on goal during the man advantage.
San Jose’s best two chances in the opening two periods came from Joe Pavelski, who was stopped by Rask on a redirection in the first period and then again midway through the second right in front of the net following a good pass from Thornton.
The Bruins came the closest to scoring in the first two periods on their power play with Scott Hannan off for holding. Patrice Bergeron got the puck in front and slid a shot past Niemi that hit the post.
The Bruins ended the second on the power play when Patrick Marleau was called for high-sticking with 1 second remaining in the period. But Boston couldn’t convert on that chance or another one early in the third when Jason Demers got called for holding. The Bruins fell to 0-for-13 on the power play in their last five games.
“It was tight from the very beginning all the way to the end,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. “There was playoff-type checking. The top two lines neutralized each other and it came down to puck luck and the bounce went to their skate. There’s nothing to hang our heads over.”
NOTES: Bruins D Johnny Boychuk flew home for personal reasons. … Boston F Shawn Thornton returned from a 15-game suspension for slew-footing Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik to the ice and punching him twice. Thornton was retaliating for a hit on Eriksson, who also returned Saturday after missing 15 games from a concussion in that game. … San Jose D Matt Irwin missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury.