The Boston Bruins have seen a two-goal lead evaporate before. And when the Tampa Bay Lightning continued to relentlessly pressure the Bruins in the second period of Sunday night’s game, pushing them back into their zone and posting 18 shots on goal, it felt as if the Lightning were going to score, and maybe even tie the game at two goals apiece. But, Jaroslav Halak stopped every shot he faced, shutting the door on the Lightning’s surge.
“It’s huge. Yeah, we see our game dip – they had a push,” said Charlie Coyle on Halak’s performance in the second period. “They’re a good team, they’re going to push. We had a heck of a first I thought and then, yeah, they’re not going to sit back. When they come, they have their chances. Jaro is there to shut the door on a number of good chances to keep us ahead. Could be a totally different game.”
Jaroslav Halak led the Bruins to a series victory against the Carolina Hurricanes; going 3-0 in games 3-5. And, he helped Boston take Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a game that could have gone either way.
Halak never saw action against Lightning during the regular season. Typically, it was Rask versus Andrei Vasilevskiy. But now, it’s the reigning Vezina Trophy winner against Rask’s back-up, Halak. One would think Tampa would have an advantage in an important area; goaltending. But, the Bruins have rallied behind Halak, and have made it tougher for opponents to find the back of his net.
“We have to help him out as much as we can,” Coyle continued. “We also have so much confidence in him. He’s a great goalie, he’s been huge from us and that’s what we need from him. When they slip in there and we break down a little bit, he’s there to shut the door.”
It should not be a shock that Jaroslav Halak’s performance has been solid, give or take some shaky plays here and there. Him and Rask won the William Jennings Trophy this season, posting a combined 2.39 goals-against average. If anything, Halak is proving once again why he is one of the best back-up goaltenders in the NHL.
“He’s an unbelievable goaltender. A lot of experience, he’s been in the league for a while,” said David Pastrnak. “Great guy and works really hard every single practice. He’s been really good for us and we just have to help him out a little more too.”
Jaroslav Halak was giving a shut-out performance in Game 1 against the Lightning, until Victor Hedman scored two goals in the final nine minutes of regulation play to make the game a bit more interesting. But, Halak prevailed, making 35 saves in the win.
However, Halak’s performance in the second period was what shined the most. The 35-year-old turned away all 18 shots he faced; the most the Lightning have put on him in a single period so far in the series.
“Yeah I mean he was dominant that period,” said Bruce Cassidy. “The other two goals, I think one went in off Charlie [McAvoy], the other one had eyes, so they certainly got a couple of fortunate ones, but boy did he make some saves in the second where they probably deserved better. We just happened to be one save better.”