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For Flyers fans, the dream of a 10-game winning streak vaulting their favorite hockey team into first place by themselves for the first time this late in the season in nine years was squashed Tuesday by one guy – Tuukka Rask.
The Boston Bruins goalie, a former Vezina Trophy winner, a one-time Stanley Cup winner, a two-time All-Star and now just the 30th goalie in NHL history to record 50 career shutouts, did just that.
Undaunted by the Flyers’ nine-game winning streak or their impeccable record at the Wells Fargo Center, Rask was not going to be beaten – even once – and not even if the game played for several more hours. He made 36 saves to blank the Flyers 2-0, keeping Philadelphia one tantalizing point behind the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division with just 13 games to play.
There’s no doubt that Washington has the easier schedule than the Flyers, with five of their remaining 13 games coming against Detroit, Buffalo, Ottawa and Chicago, while the Flyers have 10 of their final 13 games coming against teams currently in a playoff spot or within three points of one, and all three of their remaining games against non-playoff contenders are taking place on the road.
So, it’ll be a daunting task to not only overcome the Capitals but to hold on to the top spot – if they get it.