BOSTON — After the Boston Bruins went with Linus Ullmark for the first six games of their series against the Florida Panthers, they decided to turn the net over to Jeremy Swayman for an immense Game 7.
The Bruins choosing to go with Swayman over Ullmark didn’t leave any hard feelings between the two netminders who have shared goaltending duties throughout the season.
Swayman said he found out he was starting on Saturday and before he took the ice in what ended up being a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss for the Bruins in Game 7 at TD Garden, Ullmark had a simple message for his replacement.
“He just said go out and enjoy,” Swayman said. “That’s all you can do and trust in my abilities and do what I do best and just make saves and enjoy the moment. It’s special when you have a goalie that wants you to succeed and it’s a team game. And it’s special when you have that mentality of whatever it takes to win, you got his support.”
Swayman stopped 27-of-31 shots he faced on the night and made two phenomenal saves in overtime by denying Matthew Tkachuk on a breakaway bid and turning aside an attempt from in front from Carter Verhaeghe. Verhaeghe got the last laugh, though, beating Swayman 8:35 into overtime to lift the Panthers to the victory and end Boston’s season.
“I just wanted to do my job, and I was one save short, so it sucks,” Swayman said. “I think I owe the guys one more save. So, take the positives and move forward, but this one stings.”
While goals from David Krejci and Tyler Bertuzzi along with a go-ahead tally in the third period from David Pastrnak brought a thunderous roar from the home crowd, so would have a celebratory goalie hug between Swayman and Ullmark. It never came, though, as the Panthers were the ones left rejoicing on the ice.
It was a tough moment for Swayman early in his NHL career and no doubt Ullmark was there for him. They cultivated a bond throughout the season that can’t be broken.
“He’s one of those people, too, that I am just so fortunate to know and get to experience life with,” Swayman said. “He’s taught me so much and we’ve learned from each other, and it goes beyond the rink. It goes into family. To be a part of his family and him a part of mine is something that I’ll forever cherish. I am just so lucky to have a partner like him and hopefully for a really long time.”