The shorthanded Boston Bruins came to the City of Brotherly Love on the heels of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Flyers 24 hours prior. Even with Kevan Miller’s, Bruce Cassidy didn’t have the services of his top two right-shot defensemen, with Charlie McAvoy joining Brandon Carlo and countless others on the injury list.
The defensive struggles without their top two steady hands showed. Despite Patrice Bergeron notching two of his three goals in the opening stanza, Boston’s blue-line became a turnover machine in the middle stanza. Jakub Zboril’s two cough-ups directly led to the back of the net, with Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere lighting the lamp a mere 2:30 apart.
Jeremy Swayman persevered in his first career start, giving his team a chance to win. The former UMaine standout had a stellar 40-save outing, with 23 of those stops coming in the middle stanza. Swayman’s teammates eventually found their skating legs again in the third to make his effort worthwhile.
Brad Marchand delivered a highlight-reel marker at 8:21 of the third on a 2-on-1 chance with Jeremy Lauzon for his 29th career shorthanded goal. Bergeron capped off his hat trick and the Bruins’ 4-2 victory with the empty netter late in regulation.
Here’s what we learned after the Bruins ‘swayed’ their way to their sixth win of the season over the Flyers.
Swayman’s debut a dream come true
Every NHL player always has a special feeling touching the ice for the first game. Some players will make that memorable moment even more special with a glimpse into the future — think Auston Matthews’ four-goal outing against the Ottawa Senators in 2016.
Swayman fits both bills after realizing his dream come true moment in Philadelphia. The Bruins left him out to dry during significant portions of Tuesday’s tilt, including the heavily lopsided second period.
“He deserved much better support than we gave him, and he eventually got in the third,” Cassidy said of Swyamn’s debut. “I’m happy for him. He got his first NHL win. He certainly earned it. Important game for us…so good for Sway.”
The pressure hardly bothered Swayman. From his slick reflexes on Joel Farabare’s tip attempt in the first period to assisting on Bergeron’s power-play marker following a breakaway stop on Scott Laughton, Swayman remained calm under immense pressure.
As he realized his dream come true, a thankful Swayman soaked in the accomplishment in his zoom call with the media.
“First off, what an incredible experience. To get a win here in Philly means everything, and for it to be the first one,” Swayman said after becoming the sixth youngest goalie in NHL history to win his first career start. “My mentality throughout the game was ‘don’t get too high and don’t get too low.’ I learned that from [goalie coach] Alfie Michaud up in Maine, and that’s going to stick with me for a long time.”
Swayman’s night to remember provided Bruins fans with a glimpse into his future. Between Swayaman and Dan Vladar, the goaltending forecast looks bright in the years ahead.
Miller played heavy minutes in his return
So much for slowly settling in for your first game back.
After missing nearly two months’ worth of action, Miller returned to the lineup under less than ideal circumstances. With an inexperienced D core being thrown into the proverbial fire of late, Cassidy opted to tab Miller for McAvoy’s vacancy on the top pair with Matt Grzelcyk.
The Bruins missed Miller’s veteran presence and hard-nosed work ethic over the past several weeks And they were sure glad to have at least one steady hand on the back end on Tuesday.
Miller did everything asked of him in 22:05 of ice time — second-most among all Bruins. The former Vermont Catamount didn’t miss a beat showcasing his muscle during chippy moments after the whistle. His top moment came in the final minute of play, hogging the puck in a scrum along the boards allowing precious time to run off the clock. The Flyers regained possession but hardly generated a scoring chance off of it, prompting Bergeron to secure the much-needed victory.
“I thought he had good composure with the puck, which is something we’ve been preaching to the younger guys,” Cassidy said of Miller’s first game since Feb. 18. “And then obviously late in the game — third period with a lead — he’s a type of guy that’s going to be in the right spot. I thought he was physical when he needed to be…just as advertised. So it was really nice to have him back in the lineup.”
Carlo remains week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Cassidy didn’t provide any update on McAvoy afterward. The Bruins need a defensive upgrade at the trade deadline. But at least they can count on Miller during this time of uncertainty.
Accolades keep coming for Bergeron and Marchand
Swayman’s first victory wasn’t the only noteworthy milestone on this night. A pair of Boston’s grizzled veterans jumped in on the fun as well.
The dynamic duo of Bergeron and Marchand have seen it all over their 10 seasons as linemates. The pair added their own separate accolades to their illustrious careers in timely moments.
A night removed from his overtime blunder, Bergeron bounced back with his sixth career hat trick. Bergeron became the fourth Bruin in franchise history to reach the 900-point club following his first goal of the night — appropriately set up by Marchand.
The Bruins were in desperate need of a spark following arguably their roughest 20-minute stretches of the season. With the team shorthanded midway through the third, Marchand took matters into his own hands. He promptly eased Boston’s tensions converting on a slick backhander during a 2-on-1 attempt for his franchise-leading 48th career shorthanded point, surpassing Bobby Orr and Ed Westfall in the process.
Over the last decade — from Stanley Cup runs to thrilling comeback postseason wins — Bergeron and Marchand provided a handful of iconic moments in Bruins history. Surely, their milestones don’t fit the bill of a Stanley Cup win in Vancouver or an epic third-period comeback in Game 7 over Toronto. But it’s fitting for these two to accomplish their latest individual feats together in another needed win.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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