Hockey

Rask will mull surgery, future after Bruins’ ouster

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask acknowledged that offseason surgery is an option for a nagging injury that limited him in their six-game series loss to the New York Islanders in the East Division Final.

Rask wouldn’t disclose the nature of his ailments after the Bruins’ 6-2 loss to the Islanders in Game 6 on Wednesday night, which eliminated Boston from the playoffs. “I don’t think that needs to be the headline now,” said the goalie, who stopped 23 of 27 shots in the loss.

Rask was pulled after two periods in Boston’s Game 5 loss on Monday night, with coach Bruce Cassidy saying “there was some maintenance that needed to be done” and that Rask “wasn’t himself.”

Cassidy, whose team has now lost in Round 2 in consecutive seasons, said on Wednesday that Rask was dealing with an injury suffered earlier this season, but that Rask said he was healthy enough to play in Game 6.

“He wasn’t 100%. I can’t answer if he was 95% or 92%. We talk to him on a daily basis. He’s ready to go. We gave him time to heal in the middle of the year, and we would have given him time to heal in the playoffs if that was necessary. He’s our starting goalie, he told us he was ready to go, and that’s that,” the coach said.

“There may be surgery. There may not,” Cassidy added. “That’ll be his decision and the medical staff’s decision.”

Cassidy acknowledged that Rask didn’t have his strongest game on Wednesday night.

“Of course he could have been better. As I alluded to earlier, there are some rebounds that we could have cleared or controlled better. But we mismanaged some pucks and put them in bad spots as well,” he said.

The Bruins were without injured defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller, two veterans who were sorely missed as Boston struggled to handle the Islanders’ forecheck. The first four Islanders goals came on Bruins defensive miscues.

New York opened the scoring on the first of several defensive miscues for the Bruins. Travis Zajac fought off a Charlie McAvoy check in front of the Boston goal and sent the puck behind Rask for the 1-0 lead.

The Bruins tied the game on a power-play goal by Brad Marchand at 17:36 of the first period, taking advantage of two consecutive penalties against the Islanders. Those calls were noteworthy because Boston coach Bruce Cassidy earned a $25,000 fine for claiming the Game 5 officials had shown favoritism toward New York.

“I think they sell a narrative over there that it’s more like the New York Saints, not the New York Islanders,” said Cassidy after Game 5. “They just need to be better than that. Call the game as you see it. Quit listening to these outside influences and get it done right.”

Islanders fans seized on the tirade, chanting “New York Saints” during their penalty kills. Some fans wore halos to the game, while others wore a bishop’s hat with an Islanders logo on it.

The miscues continued for Boston in the second period. Brock Nelson stripped defenseman Matt Grzelcyk of the puck at center ice and scored on a breakaway at 5:20 of the second.

It was Nelson again at 12:39 of the second on another Boston mistake, as defenseman Mike Reilly fumbled a pass from Rask and the Islanders converted. Rask called the pass “a grenade” that detonated into a turnover.

Kyle Palmieri made it 4-1 on another Grzelcyk turnover, this time right in front of Rask.

“I could have made a couple more saves, definitely. Didn’t do it today. The season ended. I battled. I tried. Just fell short,” Rask said.

Marchand made it 4-2 with a power-play goal in the third. The Islanders scored two empty net goals for the final margin.

For the Bruins, it’s another missed opportunity to bring home another Stanley Cup with the team’s veteran core of Rask, Marchand, center Patrice Bergeron and center David Krejci.

“We’re all getting older. It’s not going to last forever. It’s definitely closing at some point, for sure,” Rask said.

Both Krejci and Rask are unrestricted free agents this offseason. It’s possible that Rask, 34, might have played his final game with the Bruins. Boston will also have to make a decision on trade-deadline acquisition Taylor Hall, a winger and former league MVP who struggled vs. the Islanders.

“We’ll see. I don’t have any thoughts right now,” Rask said. “It’s a tough loss. We’ll have our exit meetings and start planning on the future.”

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