TAMPA — If you asked Boston Bruins fans what they feared the most about the team’s second-round series, few would have mentioned the many offensive weapons the Tampa Bay Lightning possess.

No, the one player many fans – and a few sportswriters, to be fair – were concerned about was Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. He was coming off a shaky performance in the emotional Game 7 victory over the Maple Leafs in the first round. In fact, after stealing Game 4 in Toronto, he was so-so at best in Games 5, 6 and 7, leaving him with a below average .899 save percentage.

But Saturday at Amalie Arena, Rask hit the reset button and came up with a strong performance that helped the Bruins to a 6-2 win. His performance might get overlooked, though, because the Bruins scored six goals, and the Rask highlight that will be played over and over again will be of the tantrum he threw at 13:22 of the second period.

With the Bruins leading 3-1, Tampa Bay was given a power play on a questionable penalty against Jake DeBrusk. On the power play, Rask’s left skate blade popped off when it was hit by a shot. The puck was out on the perimeter and Rask repeatedly screamed to get the officials’ attention while he frantically peg-legged his way around the crease. Eventually, Mikhail Sergachev took advantage of Rask’s greatly impaired mobility to send a shot from the blue line past him to make it 3-2.

Infuriated, Rask hobbled off to pick up the useless skate blade, held up the damning piece of evidence for the world to see and then chucked it into an open space of ice. He appeared to be in full meltdown mode. But then, after getting his skate repaired, a cooler Rask did not let another shot past him. He made 34 stops in all for his best outing of the playoffs thus far.

“That’s the biggest thing for a goalie in any case when you let in a goal. You just have to let it go and focus on the next shot,” said Rask. “When it’s a weird play like that, it’s tougher to stay focused. But I kept battling, and luckily it didn’t make a difference in the game.”

No one seemed to know the rule at the time, including the officials. Rask said one of the refs told him if he had seen the missing skate blade, he would have blown the play dead. But that would not have been the correct thing to do, according to the NHL.

According to a league release in response to the incident, “There is no rule for referees to stop play for a broken piece of equipment, regardless of whether the equipment belongs to a goaltender or a skater. The lone exception is when referees may stop play after a goaltender has lost his helmet (as outlined in Rule 9.6).”

On occasion, Rask does lose his temper, and it’s not always a bad thing. As a minor leaguer, he became a YouTube star after a milk crate-throwing incident. More recently, in a game against the Lightning on March 29, Rask went after Tampa Bay captain Cedric Paquette with his blocker when he felt the forward had taken liberties. That catapulted the Bruins to an emotional win. And Saturday, his teammates didn’t mind seeing him get fired up.

“Any time you get emotional like that and attached to the game like he was, it gives you extra energy, and I thought he was great. It was fun to watch, I guess. I wasn’t sure if he should have thrown that skate blade. I was like ‘No, don’t do that,'” Patrice Bergeron said with a laugh. “But at least nobody was around. It was nice to see that emotion out of him and the way he stepped up in that game. It definitely gives us a lot of confidence.”

Rask said he knew what he was doing with the blade toss.

“I didn’t throw it at anyone,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure everyone saw that my blade was off.”

But the bottom line is that Rask and the Bruins have accomplished at least part of their mission in the series by immediately seizing home-ice advantage with a road victory. And Rask erased the memory of his shaky Game 7 performance against Toronto, at least for one day anyway.

“It’s a new series and you try to come out on top in the first game, try to get a lead, and that’s what my focus was,” said Rask. “And like every game, I just tried to give my team a chance to win.

“We knew that they’d come out hard in the first and we’d have to try to weather the storm and gain the lead. And that’s what we did.”

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