The Boston Bruins played one of their best games in a while Thursday night as they defeated the Washington Capitals 4-2 on the road, and it was rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman who led the charge.
He made 31 saves on 33 shots, and the only two goals he allowed came on Grade A scoring chances during a 5-vs-3 Capitals power play.
It was Swayman's second win this week after he also helped Boston defeat the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday by making 42 saves in his NHL debut.
Swayman's excellent performances drew plenty of praise from his teammates following Thursday's victory.
"We heard he was a great goalie," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "Obviously, we shoot on him in practice, but it's a whole different situation in a game at this level. He's as advertised. He competes very hard. Phenomenal kid off the ice. Great to be around. He's a great goalie. He's quick, he competes, and he just seems to have great position. It's great that he's stepping up at a time like this."
“Same with (Dan Vladar). When you have your two top goalies out, for guys to come in and play the way those two have, it’s huge for our group. It gives us confidence to play in front of them. When we have a breakdown, we know that they’re going to be there to back us up, and that’s what you need. You have to be able to rely on your goaltender to be your best player, and they have been the last few games.”
Swayman went 8-1-1 this season with the AHL's Providence Bruins and has now gone 2-0-0 for Boston while stopping 71 of the 75 shots he's faced in those two games. It's important not to draw too many conclusions from a small sample size, but there's no question that something special is happening with the 23-year-old netminder.
The Bruins desperately need it, too.
Veteran goalies Tuukka Rask (injury) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID-19 protocols) are unavailable, which has forced Swayman and fellow rookie netminder Dan Vladar to step up during a crucial point in the playoff race.
So far, these two young goalies have answered the challenge, but it's far from over. The B's play the Capitals and first-place New York Islanders two times each over the next nine days. They might need Swayman and Vladar to win several of those difficult matchups.