Commentary

All-out effort lifts Bruins in double OT

Updated: April 22, 2010, 11:55 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- After regular-season games, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask usually waits for the media standing at his locker stall wearing shorts and a T-shirt.

That wasn't the case after the Bruins' thrilling 3-2 double-overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Wednesday night at TD Garden. Moments after Miroslav Satan netted the winning power-play goal at 7:41 of the second OT period, Rask was sitting at his stall with only his upper-body equipment removed. He didn't have the energy to shed his pads, pants and skates just yet.

[+] EnlargeTuukka Rask
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaTuukka Rask gave his all in Game 4, particularly on this diving save in the third period.

"You guys don't mind if I do this sitting down?" he asked with a big sigh, dripping with sweat.

The rookie netminder made 35 saves in the winning effort, and he needed to take a deep breath before every answer he gave during his postgame interview. It was Rask's first experience in an NHL overtime playoff game.

"It could have been shorter," he said. "I don't know what to say. It was really exciting. I thought both teams had chances, but by that point, it's anybody's game. Everybody's so tired that one little play makes a huge difference, and today we got that break."

The Bruins, in control of the series with a 3-1 lead, are one victory from advancing to the next round. They won Wednesday night on pure adrenaline.

Boston entered the third period trailing by two goals, but David Krejci scored on the power play at 2:07 and Patrice Bergeron netted the equalizer at 6:40. It was the second time this series that the Bruins recovered from a two-goal deficit.

"We don't want to get in the habit, that's for sure," Bruins veteran Mark Recchi said. "Guys showed a lot of character. I don't think we were that great early, and they played hard, but we got better as it went on and showed a lot of desperation when we needed it."

It's all about desperation once an NHL playoff game goes into overtime.

Few things in professional sports can compare to the Stanley Cup playoffs. It's not like the regular season, when games that are tied after regulation have only a five-minute overtime. If it's still undecided, a shootout occurs.

Not in the playoffs. The teams battle it out until someone wins and someone else loses.

Players are completely drained after regulation playoff games. Before overtime begins, the locker rooms and training rooms are beyond hectic. The intermissions are shorter, so trainers are running around passing out food, drinks, power gels, shakes and water. Players need treatment, too. They're retaped, and the IV bags flow.

"You just try to get as much rest as possible," said Bergeron, a Bruins assistant captain. "You try to get some food in you, bananas in you, maybe some bread and lots of fluids, water and juice. You don't want to move too much, and our trainers did a great job tonight."

Goalies might lose up to 10 pounds of water weight. Positional players will lose between 3 and 5 pounds, depending on workload and temperature.

"I just sit here like this," Rask said. "I have a drink" -- not a Kevin Millar kind of drink -- "and get focused. That's it. You can't waste too much energy walking around. You just get fluids in you and focus on the next period."

Equipment managers try to dry the players' soaking-wet equipment as best they can in a short time with commercial dryers and fans.

From a coaching standpoint, Claude Julien tells his players what they need to do to be successful. On Wednesday, he told his team after the first overtime that the shifts were too long and players were too tired on the backcheck.

"We had a talk about making adjustments," Julien said. "Go short. Go hard. It's just about keeping things simple."

The Bruins made it through on pure adrenaline, and it resulted in a huge victory.

Winning Game 4 on home ice and taking a 3-1 series lead was like finding a precious gem.

"These are special nights," Recchi said. "The playoffs are so much fun. It is so much fun being a part of and being on the bench and the emotions that go through a game -- all the ups and downs. I soak everything in, and it's fun watching the guys and being a part of stuff like this."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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