Tuukka Rask bailed out the Boston Bruins by matching a personal best.
Rask made 27 saves and tied a career high with his seventh shutout of the season, lifting the Bruins over the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Thursday night.
“It wasn’t our cleanest game but those things happen,” Rask said. “Other teams behind us are breathing down our necks, so we have to keep plugging away and winning.”
Dallas had its best opportunity at 11:08 of the third period when Boston’s Kevan Miller got a double-minor for high-sticking Curtis McKenzie.
“We probably had the better quality chances and they had a couple of big turnovers that ended up on the right guy’s stick,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve had some bad luck scoring and haven’t scored enough so I think that is the biggest issue.”
Dallas, which was eliminated from playoff contention Monday, has three goals in its last three games and has two or fewer goals in six of its past seven.
Boston won its third straight and stayed three points ahead of Tampa Bay for the second Eastern Conference wild card with one game in hand. The Bruins trail Toronto by a point for third place in the Atlantic Division and are three points back of Ottawa for second place.
“We just weren’t sharp, but when you can find a way to win when you aren’t sharp, that’s a good thing,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Rask has won two straight since struggling for a stretch. He had allowed 18 goals during a four-game losing streak.
Brad Marchand gave Boston a 1-0 lead when he jammed a shot past goalie Antti Niemi at 15:14 of the first period.
Niemi had 22 saves and is winless in his last five appearances.
“A couple of mistakes,” Niemi said. “We had a chance to score, but Rask played great once again.”
Torey Krug added an insurance goal early in the second period when he converted a perfect feed from David Pastrnak.
Marchand added an assist and moved into third place in the scoring race, passing Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
▪ McKenzie bled profusely and was helped off the ice. He was initially considered doubtful to make the trip to Carolina to play the Hurricanes, but the injury may have been to soft tissue, not the eyeball, the Stars website reported.
▪ Former Bruin Tyler Seguin played in his 300th game for the Stars and has two goals over the last 10 games.
Stars: Travel to Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
Bruins: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
First Period—1, BOS, Marchand 38 (Backes), 15:14. Penalties—Eakin, DAL, (hooking), 6:09.
Second Period—2, BOS, Krug 8 (Pastrnak, Marchand), 1:18 (pp). Penalties—Spezza, DAL, (hooking), 0:52; Ritchie, DAL, (interference), 2:20; Beleskey, BOS, (interference), 10:21.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Miller, BOS, major (high sticking), 11:08.
Shots on Goal—Dal 8-8-11—27. Bos 10-7-7—24. Power plays—DAL 0 of 3; BOS 1 of 3. Goalies—DAL, Niemi 11-12-4 (24 shots-22 saves). BOS, Rask 35-20-4 (27-27). A—17,565 (17,565). T—2:29.