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Rask stays in touch with predecessor Thomas

Sunday - 6/16/2013, 8:12pm  ET

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) reacts as he watches play down the ice against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period during Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals, Saturday, June 15, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

HOWARD ULMAN
AP Sports Writer

BOSTON (AP) -- Just imagine what Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas chat about when the present and past Boston Bruins goalies, and friends, have time to talk.

Perhaps they discuss what it's like to stop shot after shot at the most important time of the season.

But Rask isn't saying.

"It's between him and me," he said Sunday.

In 2011, Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL postseason when he posted a 16-9 record, 1.98 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. He led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup title since 1972 in a seven-game series against the Vancouver Canucks.

Rask's numbers this year are even better -- a 13-5 record, 1.73 GAA and .944 save percentage. And the Bruins are three wins away from another championship, tied 1-1 with the Chicago Blackhawks heading into Game 3 on Monday night.

The 39-year-old Thomas took this season off after the NHL lockout then was traded to the New York Islanders and has stayed away from the game. After three full seasons as his teammate, Rask inherited the job.

"Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there's always that fear that you're not going to be able to replace him," coach Claude Julien said Sunday. "Tuukka's done an outstanding job. To me, he's been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago."

In the Eastern Conference finals, Rask allowed just only goals in four games as Boston swept the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the finals against Chicago, Rask has allowed five goals so far, but kept Game 2 close when he stopped 18 shots in the first period of the Bruins' 2-1 overtime win.

"I always feel like I'm in a zone," Rask said, "nothing different, just another game. My job is really easy, or really simple, not easy -- to stop the puck."

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THIRD TIME'S NOT A CHARM: The Chicago Blackhawks made it to the Stanley Cup finals without winning Game 3 of their other three series this postseason.

They get another chance, their last one, Monday night against the Boston Bruins after splitting the first two games.

"I think when you're at home the first two games, sometimes you get a little bit too comfortable," Chicago's Patrick Kane said. "Then you come on the road, maybe it's like a rude awakening when you come and play on the road. We've had three series to figure that out, learn it."

Chicago lost Game 3 in the first round 3-2 to Minnesota but won the best-of-seven series in five games. It lost to Detroit in Game 3 of the next series 3-1, then won the last three games to win it in seven. And it won its first two games at home against Los Angeles, lost the next one 3-1, and won the next two to take the series in five games.

"In L.A., maybe we were comfortable with the situation coming off two nice wins. I thought Detroit got our attention after Game 2. It was one of those games (that) could have gone either way," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "That's got to be our approach going into (Monday's) game, desperate, something to prove."

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GOOD TIMING: Daniel Paille's winner in Game 2 was the first overtime goal of his eight-year NHL career but his second winner of the 2013 NHL playoffs.

Paille scored 13:48 into overtime Saturday night to give the Bruins a 2-1 victory and even the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals at one game apiece. He also scored the winner in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third period.

The pair of winners matches Paille's total from his last 246 regular-season games.

"It feels great to score the overtime goal," Paille said after arriving on Sunday in Boston, where Game 3 will be played Monday night. "I think we're a bit relieved now that after that slow start we were able to accomplish a split, and we're coming back here for a good series."

Paille also assisted on Boston's other goal, by Chris Kelly with 5:02 left in the second period. That snapped a slump for Kelly, who had not scored a goal in 22 regular- and postseason games dating to April 17.

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FATHER AND SON: Popeye Jones played one of his 11 NBA seasons as a forward with the Boston Celtics in 1998-99, averaging 3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18 games. His son is better at hockey.

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