It was November 26, 2017. The Boston Bruins had just dropped a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers and goaltender Tuukka Rask’s abilities were questioned again as the losses seemed to be nonstop for the 2014 Vezina trophy winner. Fast-forward to the present, it’s February 4 and Rask hasn’t had a regulation loss since that Sunday in November. His stellar 18-0-2 record in the Bruins last 20 games has him in the conversation for the Vezina once again, which is far from his struggles at the beginning of the season.

With the Bruins 4-1 win last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Rask officially took over fourth place on the list of goaltenders with at least one point in consecutive decisions behind Frank Brimsek, Pete Peeters, and Gerry Cheevers. The win featured 23 saves from the Savonlinna, Finland native, including a spectacular sequence in the early stages of the second period.

About three and a half minutes in with the Leafs on a power play, Toronto forward Tyler Bozak had a virtually empty net at point blank range, but Rask employed some acrobatic skills to reach back and stop the shot in the midst of an impressive sequence of blocks. Rask also came away from the game with an assist on a Tim Schaller goal which was just a cherry on top.

Following the Bruins’ Thursday night win against the St. Louis Blues, head coach Bruce Cassidy said “this team has always been confident in Tuukka, especially lately” and it seems Rask is thriving off of the confidence as his performances have been unmatched through the Bruins last 21 games.

The stretch featured 21 games, only one of which the Bruins lost in regulation. Following the loss to the Anaheim Ducks last week, they got right back to their winning ways against the Blues. Cassidy described the goaltending from both Rask and backup Anton Khudobin as “stellar” since November and continued that “any team will play better when they know their goaltender has their back, and Tuukka certainly had that, as well as Anton [Khudobin].”

Coming into their game on Saturday night, even the Leafs knew they had a huge challenge ahead of them as winger Mitch Marner said postgame “He’s [Rask] been unbelievable the last month and a bit… When you give him his eyes, he’s going to make the save.”

Over the stretch, Rask has put up some impressive numbers as he has let in two or fewer goals in 17 of his last 20 starts. He’s ranked third in the NHL among goalies in goals against average with a 2.09 and is tied for sixth in save percentages at .925 with Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

The Bruins are currently sitting comfortably in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 31-11-8 record on the season and Rask is a huge part of that. He’s come a long way since his early season struggles and has shown he is capable of being among the elite and should most definitely be in the conversation for the Vezina come the NHL Awards in June.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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