The Boston Bruins took home yet another tight contest against a top Western Conference opponent.
A pair of first NHL goals and another stellar performance from Jeremy Swayman saw the Bruins take home their tenth victory of the year in Dallas on Monday night.
Johnny Beecher fired home his first career tally 10:21 in. With time and space as his ally, Beecher skated into the right circle and fired a slick wrister past Jake Oettinger.
Mason Lohrei quickly joined Beecher in the first goal department. The rookie defenseman snapped a shot home from the high slot to double Boston’s lead at 14:09 of the first period.
“Pretty cool to watch that one go in,” Lohrei told reporters of his first career goal. “[Heinen] made a great play, [Steen] screening in front so it made it easy on me, just had to hit the net.”
Wyatt Johnston deflected home Esa Lindell’s point shot to cut Boston’s lead in half.
The Bruins recalibrated and responded to the Stars’ third-period push, as Johnston’s tally was only one of two blemishes for Swayman.
“[Swayman] looks bigger in the crease; I think he’s more poised in there,” head coach Jim Montgomery said to NESN’s Andy Brickley. “You just see his awareness, his confidence in controlling the game from the crease is remarkable.”
A productive power play re-established Boston’s two-goal lead in the third. Brad Marchand cleaned up the loose change in front of Oettinger on David Pastrnak’s initial shot attempt to provide the Bruins with an important insurance tally.
Swayman continued to build on his NHL-leading save percentage and goals-against-average, stopping 34 of 36 shots. The fourth-year Boston netminder shut the door in the third period after a tremendous Dallas push during the third period.
With Oettinger pulled for the extraaa attacker, Joe Pavelski managed to tip one past Swayman in the final minute. But the Bruins derailed Dallas’ comeback bid in the closing seconds to secure the 3-2 victory.
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins improved to 10-1-1 on the year.
The Kids Are Alright
Beecher spoke recently about his continually growing offensive confidence at the NHL level. Although assigned to a fourth-line center role, the rookie center had tallied just one assist in his first eleven career games.
Beecher’s confidence received a tremendous boost after the 2019 first-round selection buried the first goal of his career.
Not to be outdone, Lohrei continued to impress in just his third NHL game. The talented rookie defenseman collected his first NHL goal just 3:48 after Beecher’s marker.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Montgomery said. “You dream your whole life of being able to score in the NHL and play in the NHL. That goal is kind of like the ribbon being pulled off that you actually belong.”
Beyond the goal, Lohrei played a valuable role on an undermanned blueline, including logging minutes on the power play and penalty kill. Through his first three games, Lohrei already has a goal and an assist to his credit.
“You work your whole life to be here and you always dream about scoring your first goal,” Lohrei said to the media. “Pretty cool to check that one off the list.”
The goaltending tandem remains Boston’s backbone.
There’s no denying the strength of Boston’s goaltending tandem.
Of all the factors that have led to the Bruins’ 10-1-1 start, the Swayman and Ullmark duo is near the top.
The Bruins have played good hockey to start the centennial season, but Ullmark and Swayman have masked some of the team’s defensive issues through the first 12 games.
“It’s good to see results. But, again, it’s a long season and we’ve got a lot to work on still,” Swayman said to NESN’s Sophia Jurksztowicz. “I’m excited for that.”
The Bruins played an overall solid defensive performance against the well-rounded Stars, but Swayman bailed them out in the third period. Ullmark didn’t have the same luck on Saturday against Detroit where Boston’s shorthanded defense struggled against a relentless Red Wings attack during the final 20 minutes.
Despite the different results from the last two games, the Ullmark-Swayman tandem allows the Bruins to win and learn on the fly.
“We know it’s gonna be hard to win in this league,” Swayman said, “and it’s that much sweeter when we do.”
The makeshift fourth line became tone setters.
It may not have been the fourth line that was on Bruins fans’ bingo card at the beginning of the season, but it’s the fourth line that’s getting things done.
Aside from Beecher’s first career goal, Boston’s fourth trio, which also featured Danton Heinen and Oskar Steen, had another effective outing.
“They played north, they won battles, they were connected,” Montgomery said to Brickley. “Every time there was a turnover or anything, there was two of them on it and they ended up with possession. They ended up taking pucks from the D-zone to the O-zone. Obviously, the two goals from your fourth line, that’s huge.”
Beecher has been a consistent piece of the fourth line all year, but has seen two new companions on the wings after injuries to Milan Lucic and Jakub Lauko. Behind their solid energy and forechecking raits, Heinen and Steen provided some stability in the short term.
The work of the fourth line led directly to Lohrei’s goal. After working the puck from high to low and back down again, Heinen found Lohrei in a dangerous part of the ice, giving the young defenseman time and space in a dangerous part of the ice. With Steen setting a screen in front of Oettinger, Lohrei lit the lamp in his only shot on goal of the night.
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