There were many things first-year Bruins coach Jim Montgomery could have pointed to as the main reason for Boston’s 4-1 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night at UBS Arena.
There was stellar play from Bruins defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Derek Forbort along with Boston’s special teams rising to the challenge.
Or, as has become commonplace throughout this season, Montgomery could have kept his finger pointed toward goalie Linus Ullmark, who backstopped yet another win. It wasn’t the most dazzling performance from Ullmark, but he was steady once again by making 25 saves, including a few key stops in the opening frame to thwart the Islanders.
“He comes up with big saves in big moments all year long,” Montgomery told NESN’s Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley as seen on the network’s postgame coverage. “That’s why he’s 24-2-1. He’s had a terrific season. He’s the backbone of our team back there.”
The victory carried a little extra significance for Ullmark as it ended up being the 100th win of his NHL career.
“Well, I got to share it with probably the most special group in this league, so I couldn’t be more happy,” Ullmark told reporters, as seen on NESN postgame coverage.
Ullmark has put himself in position to be the favorite for the Vezina Trophy, and it isn’t just because he owns the league’s best record. His 1.88 goals-against average is the top mark in the NHL as well as his .937 save percentage.
Ullmark is just two wins shy of matching his win total from last season, which is also a career high, and with the abundant success he and the Bruins are having, it isn’t exactly easy to process.
“It has been overwhelming,” Ullmark said. “I’m not going to lie, it has been a different kind of a season definitely. And it’s taken a lot of me mentally to keep going and not be satisfied because it’s hard. We have the luxury now halfway through the season to be at this point, and usually you’re at this point at the end of the season. So, I have a lot of gratitude for all the boys in here that go to work every single night.”