BOSTON — Boston Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery didn’t reveal his hand following morning skate Tuesday when it came to who would get the starting nod in net against the Tampa Bay Lightning later that night.
But Montgomery knew all along Jeremy Swayman would be between the pipes even though Linus Ullmark was healthy enough to play after suffering an injury in last Friday’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I knew two days ago,” Montgomery said with a laugh.
Swayman certainly backed up his coach’s decision with a stellar performance against a Lightning squad that has been to the last three Stanley Cup Finals and possesses plenty of firepower with an offense coming in that was ranked in the top five in the NHL in goals per game.
Swayman made 27 saves to stonewall Tampa Bay as the only shot that got by the 24-year-old netminder in a 3-1 win for the Bruins at TD Garden came on a blast by Steven Stamkos on the power play. Other than that, it was lights out for the Lightning.
Swayman seemed to always be in the right position to turn aside shots, including on his best save of the night with less than seven minutes remaining and with the game still in the balance. Tampa Bay had a 3-on-2 opportunity as Corey Perry streaked wide open on the left wing. Perry tried to put a one-timer past Swayman, but he smoothly moved across the goalmouth with ease, extending his leg and making a terrific pad save that was without a doubt the highlight of his strong showing.
“Goalie (coach) Bob (Essensa) has really liked his progression,” Montgomery said. “That’s the best he’s looked this year to me. Very calm in the crease tonight, which is a great sign anytime you’re behind the bench and you think your goalie is calm in the crease, it’s usually because he’s being patient on his feet and he’s seeing the puck well.”