BOSTON — Twenty was the magic number for Tuukka Rask on Friday night.
The Boston goaltender, having a Vezina Trophy-type season, picked up his 20th victory of the year and the 20th shutout of his career in leading Boston to a 5-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
Rask, who pitched his fourth shutout of the season as the Bruins won their eighth straight at home, was at his best in the first period, when his sluggish teammates were outshot 15-5.
“It wasn’t a great first period for us … Tuukka, he’s going to stand on his head for us,” right winger Reilly Smith said after his two goals highlighted a four-goal third period that broke the game open. “Sometimes we expect that too much — he did a great job tonight and he kept us in it in the first period, no doubt, but our team did a great job in the second and third periods.”
Rask finished with 33 saves, but his buddies, with 37 shots in the last two periods, really did make his life easier after the first, which was the first period played after the three-day Christmas break.
“We weren’t skating, we weren’t hitting, we weren’t as sharp with our passes as we were the last two periods,” Rask said. “We talked about it after the first — fix it and we were pretty dominant after that.
“You take three days off, you go for a walk or something like that, but you don’t skate or play hockey, so I think it was a little bit of that. I’m just happy that we fixed it … you just have to make sure that you’re not rusty; if you’re rusty, then your team’s (in trouble).”
The win, the Bruins’ third straight, came in the front end of an old-fashioned home-and-home that ends in Ottawa on Saturday night.
The Bruins did hit a post in the first period. Smith was stopped on a breakaway and they hit another post in the second before right winger Jarome Iginla connected for his 11th goal of the season (third in the last two games, 541st of his career) with 3:31 left in the second period to break the scoreless tie.
It came on Boston’s first power play of the game and was the Bruins’ fourth power play-goal in as many chances dating to going 3-for-3 at Nashville on Monday night.
Bruins center David Krejci, who has 14 points in the last 13 games, converted a rebound off the back boards 38 seconds into the third period, beating Senators goaltender Robin Lehner to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
Smith scored his 13th and 14th goals of the season later in the third period. The first goal came off a nifty 2-on-1 pass by left winger Brad Marchand, who then scored his ninth of the season on a short-handed breakaway with 27 seconds left.
Center Patrice Bergeron assisted on both Smith goals.
Lehner, who projects as a goalie on the Swedish Olympic team, came in just 2-3-2 against the Bruins but with a 2.11 goals-against-average and .943 save percentage. He finished with 37 saves on Friday.
“We had one good period. We were really bad. End of story,” said Lehner, who fell to 5-9-3 this season.
The 5-0 loss followed Ottawa’s 5-0 win on Monday night over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who came with Craig Anderson in goal.
“Teams are picking us apart when we don’t play simple, and when we’re not working hard and we’re not playing hard,” Lehner said. “We’re awfully easy to play against when we don’t work and we don’t play simple.”
Boston, 13-0-2 in its last 15 home games, has not lost a home game in regulation since Oct. 26.