If Don Sweeney was trying to push Jeremy Swayman's buttons with his recent comments, he succeeded.
The Bruins general manager said Tuesday that Swayman and Linus Ullmark have been "OK" in net for Boston and left the door wide open for free-agent Tuukka Rask to take over as the primary goaltender after he recovers from hip surgery.
Swayman made his first start since Sweeney's comments Thursday -- and played the best game of his career.
The rookie goaltender stopped all 42 shots he faced in the Bruins' 2-0 win over the Predators in Nashville. Swayman's 42 saves were a career high, and the 23-year-old joined a short list of Boston goaltenders with at least 42 stops in a shutout win.
If you're in the company of Tim Thomas, you're doing something right.
"I wasn’t chasing pucks," Swayman told reporters after the game. "It was a good week of practice the two games I didn’t start so I was definitely focusing on that and thought it came out to play tonight. It was nice."
Swayman took a back seat to Ullmark in Boston's last two games after allowing four goals in last Friday's 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers. The time off apparently did the rookie some good, as he looked locked during his first shutout of the season and third in his NHL career.
“He was tracking pucks very well tonight," assistant coach Joe Sacco said. "Certainly I think it was one of his better games and we needed him. When they pushed he came up with some big saves."
Swayman now has the edge on Ullmark in save percentage (.921 in 11 starts to Ullmark's .911 in nine starts) and has more upside than the 28-year-old veteran. He needs to be more consistent, though: Swayman has allowed four goals, one goal, four goals and zero goals in his last four starts, respectively.
If Swayman can build on the momentum of Thursday's effort, that will go a long way toward the Bruins having stability in net, regardless of whether Rask returns.