PHILADELPHIA -- Boston rookie goalie Tuukka Rask has certainly been equal to the task in his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL's regular-season leader in goals-against average and save percentage carried the Bruins within one win of their first trip to the conference finals since 1992 by stopping 33 shots as Boston whipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Rask was perfect after surrendering a goal to Arron Asham 2:32 into the game as the Bruins stifled the Flyers to move within a victory of sweeping the Flyers. They get their first chance to advance in Game 4 on Friday night at the Wachovia Center.
The odds aren't against the Flyers becoming only the third team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games. The Bruins are 16-0 when leading a best-of-3 series 3-0. The Flyers have lost all six series which they have faced an 0-3 deficit.
After spotting the Flyers the opening goal of the game for the first time in this series, the Bruins quickly got goals by Blake Wheeler and Miroslav Satan 1:34 apart to take a 2-1 lead just 5:45 into the game.
Mark Recchi knocked home a power-play rebound 2:30 into the third period, taking much of the life out of the sellout crowd, and Patrice Bergeron hit the empty net with 1:52 remaining.
The Bruins won without the services of second-line center David Krejci and rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid, both of whom were lost to injuries in the opening six minutes of the first period.
The Flyers connected for the opening goal of the game for the first time in this series when Asham ripped home a shot from the right circle, finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Claude Giroux. The puck ticked off Rask's left glove and just inside the right post to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead at 2:32. It was around that time when McQuaid was mysteriously injured when he bumped into his own teammate while going off on a line change.
The Bruins needed just 1:21 to get even. Wheeler scored his first of the postseason off a nifty tip in the slot while fighting off a check from Lukas Krajicek. Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick took a shot from the left point that Wheeler deflected between Brian Boucher and the left post.
Krejci was then forced to leave the game after colliding with Flyers captain Mike Richards at his own blue line at 5:40 -- but not before earning the secondary assist on Boston's go-ahead goal. Satan, the Bruins' offensive star in these playoffs, was sent in alone by Milan Lucic against Boucher and scored his team-high fifth of the playoffs with a quick deke and a backhander at 5:45. Satan took a feed from Milan Lucic at the Flyers blue line after Lucic picked up a feed by Krejci an instant before Richards leveled him.
Satan, a 14-year-veteran, extended his points-streak to six games -- he has 5 goals and 4 assist over that stretch.
Even when it appeared the Flyers were about to gain some needed momentum at the 6:16 mark of the second -- about to go on their first power-play while injured Flyers forward Ian Laperriere was shown waving to the crowd on the center-ice scoreboard -- the Bruins found a way to stuff the opportunity in maintaining a 2-1 lead. The Flyers did generate four shots on the man advantage, but Rask was equal to the challenge.
Rask also make a big right-pad save off a Giroux slap shot from the right circle with 5:32 remaining in the second before receiving a little help from the goal post on a backhander in front by Asham 22 seconds later.
Recchi gave the Bruins a two-goal lead when he tucked home a loose puck from in front after Zdeno Chara's power-play blast hit Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger up high and dropped to the ice.
Shift of the night: Before leaving the game after taking a tremendous hit from Flyers captain Mike Richards at the Boston blue line, David Krejci earned the secondary assist on his team's go-ahead goal at 5:45 of the first period. Miroslav Satan, who has been a thorn in the side to the Flyers in the postseason, took a pass from Milan Lucic at the Flyers' blue line and broke in alone on Brian Boucher. Satan made a quick deke and tucked in a backhander for his team-leading fifth goal of the playoffs for a 2-1 lead. Krejci slipped a pass to Lucic an instant before being leveled by Richards.
1 - 0 PHI
1 - 1 Tie