BOSTON — Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark had thought about this moment ever since he was a teenager growing up in Sweden.
He longed to play on the elevated stage of the Winter Classic, and he finally got his chance Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at venerable Fenway Park. Ullmark didn’t disappoint, either.
The 29-year-old netminder not only made 26 saves in a thrilling, come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Penguins, but survived the pressure-packed final seconds, in which the Penguins scored a goal after the final horn sounded, to bring a feeling of bliss to Ullmark.
“It’s just pure joy and happiness afterward,” Ullmark said. “It’s something that I’ve dreamt about for like 14 years since I saw the first one at home in Sweden. So, I’ve always dreamt about it. I was always very jealous of the people that would play before and had the opportunity.”
Ullmark immersed himself in the entire event, including donning vintage Red Sox uniforms with the rest of his teammates for their pregame outfits. Ullmark returned to those old-school threads for his postgame press conference as well as sporting a catcher’s mask and cleats.
“I thought it was a cool idea,” Ullmark said. “I like to dress up for these special occasions as well. I was lucky enough to find a pair of cleats from the ’50s. … It was a lot fun. We came together and I knew we had a vague idea of what it was going to be like. But (Sunday) when we actually got the (gear) in front of us, it was mind-blowing. I loved every second of it.”
Ullmark was far from flashy in Boston’s 29th victory of the season. He owns 21 of those wins with only one regulation loss to his record. He’s only five wins away from matching his career-high in a season, which he set last year.
Ullmark was steady between the pipes and put himself in good positions, which kept him from having to make any highlight-reel saves.
He has become one of the most reliable players the Bruins have, and that has been a major asset.
“His elite consistency has been unreal,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “If it wasn’t for him we’d probably be down 3-0 after two. You’re not going to come back in those situations very often. He gives us the ability to win every night.”