The Boston Bruins displayed one of their various strong suits during their back-to-back New York road trip: goaltending.
After Linus Ullmark delivered a 25-save showing during Wednesday’s win over the New York Islanders, Jeremy Swayman was tasked with keeping the Bruins on track. And that’s just what he did by making 31 saves.
And if it hadn’t been for a third-period score from Rangers defenseman Ben Harpur, Swayman would’ve recorded back-to-back shutouts. Yet, being nearly perfect was more than good enough for Boston to skate off the ice with a 3-1 victory at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery emphasized the value of having Ullmark and Swayman as options to rely on, on a night-to-night basis. He described the tandem as a “luxury” after the Bruins notched their fourth consecutive win.
“Our two goaltenders were outstanding,” Montgomery said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “They were our best players both nights. … It’s such a luxury what we have back there. To be able to have two No. 1’s is something most teams would just love to have one.”
As Montgomery noted, Swayman was indeed the highlight of the night. The 26-year-old set the tone and held New York scoreless through the first two periods, which included an 11-save opening frame. Swayman also kept the Rangers at bay through a trio of failed power play opportunities on their end.
Swayman has gone a perfect 4-0 in four January starts to kick off the new year.
“It’s just awesome, seeing the guys compete like that on a back-to-back,” Swayman said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “We needed those two big points, it’s a great team and a fun atmosphere to play in so really happy with the two points. … I gotta keep up with him (Ullmark), he’s such a stud so it’s awesome to go to work with him every day. We have that mentality as a team. We want better from each other every day and everyone pulls the rope and we get success from that so it’s fun to be a part of.”
Thanks to consecutive showings from Boston’s elite goaltender tandem, the Bruins improved their league-best road record to 15-4-1.
“It’s special to have a team like this,” Swayman said. “We don’t get too high, get too low and it brings challenges. So we’re gonna feel good for five minutes and move on. We want that challenge and we’re ready for it.”
Swayman has now gone 6-0-2 with a .941 save percentage through his last eight games for the Bruins, and his teammates have noticed his poise in net.
“Can’t say enough about him and his demeanor in the pipes,” Patrice Bergeron said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “He’s ready every time he’s asked upon and gives us a chance to win every time. So, obviously, it’s great to see and when he’s having a game like he had tonight, gives you confidence and you wanna pull it off for him.”
Here are more notes from Thursday’s Bruins-Rangers game:
— Pavel Zacha recorded his third goal in as many games. Through the stretch, he’s also totaled four assists with a plus-seven rating.
— After the game, Bruins right wing David Pastrnak was voted to the NHL All-Star Game for the third time in his career. Pastrnak has scored 10 goals with three assists through nine games in the month of January.
“Fun event, fun weekend, looking forward to it,” Pastrnak said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Always excited.”
— The Bruins scored their league-leading 67th third-period goal, courtesy of Connor Clifton.
— With the brief road trip concluded, the Bruins will return to action on Sunday. Puck drop against the San Jose Sharks is set for 7 p.m. at TD Garden, and you can watch the game, plus a full hour of pregame coverage, live on NESN.