BOSTON — There was only one thing going through Boston Bruins coach Jim Montgomery’s mind as the Anaheim Ducks took off on a three-on-zero breakaway in overtime and barreled in on goaltender Linus Ullmark.
“Please make another save,” Montgomery said following Boston’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Ducks at TD Garden on Thursday. “That’s the only thing going through my mind. Not only did he make the save, he cleared the rebound to the corner.”
Ullmark stonewalled Ryan Strome on his breakaway bid, one of the highlights in a sensational performance for the 29-year-old netminder. Ullmark made 30 saves, but none bigger than the five shots he turned aside in overtime before stopping all four of Anaheim’s attempts in the shootout.
Montgomery called Ullmark the team’s “best player” on the night, an assessment that shouldn’t come with second-guessing from anyone.
“(He was) terrific,” Montgomery said. “Gave us an opportunity to get two points. He’s done it every night he’s been in the night. He’s had a great start to the year.”
The only time Ullmark was beat on the night was when Frank Vatrano blasted a one-timer by him on a two-on-one opportunity in the second period. Besides that, Ullmark was in complete control in his crease. He credited his terrific start to the season — he now owns a 3-0 record — to just having a better foundation in his second season in Boston.
“Just feeling a little bit more comfortable off the ice and with the boys,” Ullmark said. “There’s not a whole lot of new things, not a lot of new personnel. Don’t have to get to know everybody, don’t have to get to know the system, don’t have to know the city — everything, life, basically. I’m in a better spot.”
Ullmark’s strong play to begin the campaign will leave Montgomery with an interesting decision going forward. Will he ride the hot hand in Ullmark or continuing alternating Ullmark with Jeremy Swayman as he done through the first five games this season?
“Got to evaluate that tomorrow,” Montgomery said. “It’s going to be hard to go away from him, but things we got to consider is the 36 hours (until playing Minnesota). He spent a lot of time in the crouch because unfortunately we defended more than we would have liked.”
Here are more notes from Thursday’s Bruins-Ducks game:
— The matchup gave Hampus Lindholm his first opportunity to face his former team. Lindholm, who spent the first nine years of his career with Anaheim, was traded to Boston in the middle of last season. The defenseman notched an assist in the win.
— Anaheim came into the contest with the third-worst penalty kill percentage in the NHL, but the Bruins weren’t able to capitalize on the man-advantage despite having five chances. Boston had two power plays in the opening frame, which could have helped them take a stranglehold on the game if they cashed in, but couldn’t convert with the Bruins trying to force things too much to David Pastrnak.
“We just didn’t make clean plays tonight,” Montgomery said. “I thought the puck movement was slow, five-on-five and especially on the power play.”
— Matt Grzelcyk played in his first game of the season after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and turned in an impressive performance. Montgomery moved Grzelcyk up to the team’s top defensive pairing alongside Lindholm early in the game after starting the veteran on the second line. Grzelcyk showed his value by doing a little bit of everything as he recorded an assist as well as two shots on net. He also blocked four shots.
“I felt good,” Grzelcyk said. “It was just fun to be back out there. Get a little anxious before the game, not sure how it’s going to play out. But kept reminding myself that I’m in a fortunate position, lucky to be back.”
— Montgomery inserted Jack Studnicka into the lineup for the first time this season, but the third-line center struggled in his season debut. Studnicka didn’t register a shot on net and was called for two penalties.
— The Bruins continue their four-game homestand Saturday when they host the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop from TD Garden is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, and you can watch the game, plus an hour of pregame coverage, with NESN 360.