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  • Takeaways: Bruins secure shootout win following a gutsy penalty kill

    Tim Rosenthal March 31, 2024

    At times, the Boston Bruins took an unorthodox route to victory during a proverbial bridge season. But Saturday’s latest path to two points over the Washington Capitals felt a little different.

    Their details looked attentive. Their effort remained solid. But their execution looked a bit off during the first 60 minutes.

    Despite holding the Caps to 20 shots on net, Jim Montgomery’s club couldn’t extend their two leads following Hampus Lindholm’s seeing-eye shot in the first and Johnny Beecher’s breakaway tally early in the second.

    A bad line change resulted in Michael Sgarabossa firing a top-shelf snipe past Jeremy Swayman early in the second.

    The Bruins ran into penalty trouble later in the middle frame, committing two infractions in a 2:28 span. With Kevin Shattenkirk in the box for hooking, the Caps pounced with their second chance on the man advantage. John Carlson, playing in his 1,000th career game, parked on Swayman’s doorstep to bury Max Paciroetty’s feed at 14:03.


    Despite generating extensive time in the attacking end, a struggling Boston power play failed to capitalize on another opportunity to regain the lead early in the third. Come overtime, they needed their other special teams half to dig deep.

    An ill-timed high-stick by Lindholm on T.J. Oshie 57 seconds in sent the Bruins into a 4-on-3 situation for nearly the rest of OT. Swayman stood tall, stopping all four shots he faced during the four-minute sequence, and Boston’s shorthanded unit delivered with timely stick checks and clears to extend the game into a shootout.

    Jake DeBrusk, David Pastrnak and Kevin Shattenkirk netted their tallies in the first, third and fifth rounds, respectively. Swayman recovered following consecutive markers by Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano and denied bids from Alex Ovechkin and Connor McMichael to secure Boston’s 3-2 victory.

    Here’s what we learned after the Bruins reached the 100-point mark for the sixth straight season — sans the 2021 COVID-shortened campaign.

    A gutsy penalty kill in overtime gets Lindholm out of scapegoat territory.

    After an emotional drop-off in Tampa on Wednesday, Montgomery opted to reshuffle his entire lineup heading into their tilt with the desperate Caps. One of his changes involved moving Lindholm into a top-pairing role with Charlie McAvoy.

    At times, the veteran Lindholm showed signs of breaking through his rocky season. That development continued on Saturday, providing one of his more well-rounded outings through regulation.

    Over the first 20 minutes, Lindholm prevented a potential Washington tally with a last-ditch block in the crease and netted his first goal in 51 games.

    Come overtime, however, the Bruins needed a bailout effort out of their penalty kill after Lindholm caught Oshie with a high stick. 

    After a productive night next to the well-rounded McAvoy, the Bruins fought through fatigue and the long change period to solidify that bailout effort behind their aggressive PK setup and a round of timely stops by Swayman.

    “Super impressed,” Lindholm told reporters. “Four minutes 4-on-3. I saw the guys there; they were really tired out there. But they were buying in and really making them work out there. It was really fun, and Sway played well, too.”

    Swayman tested early, comes through late.

    Within the first 10 minutes, the Bruins looked like they’d enter familiar territory.

    Another round of leaks along the net forced Swayman into active duty. The third-year Bruin stopped four of Washington’s high-danger scoring chances over the first half of the opening frame. 

    The Bruins eventually cleaned up their defensive coverage. They limited the Caps to just two more shots on goal during the opening frame and held Washington to five shots each in the second and third.

    “I want to be comfortable in those type of games, and comfortable in uncomfortable situations,” Swayman told the press. “Understanding that any time they can get a breakaway or a 2-on-1 rush, it has to be a one-shot-at-a-time mentality.”

    Swayman didn’t allow himself to lag off during a relatively lighter workload, remaining dialed in from the get-go.

    The former University of Maine standout stopped two shots each from Ovechkin and Strome during Washington’s four-minute power play. The latter got the best of Swayman in the shootout. But with that one-shot-at-a-time mantra, Swayman recovered in time to deny Ovechkin before putting the final touches on Boston’s 43rd win of the season with his flashy glove stop on McMichael.

    “I’m just really excited about the result tonight and the way our guys played, especially defensively,” Swayman added after his 18-save performance.

    Beecher looks like a playoff keeper.

    Beecher’s declining production, coupled with Boston’s tight salary cap situation, prompted his assignment to Providence in January. He returned a couple of months later with a more polished product.

    An increased middle-six role at the AHL allowed Beecher to log additional time on special teams and in late-game situations at center and wing. And since his return up I-95, Beecher provided some needed versatility on Boston’s bottom six.

    Between his speed, faceoff prowess, and improvement in his checking game, Beecher now finds himself on the cusp of securing his fourth-line role for the playoffs. He used a pair of those traits in the second period on Saturday after forcing Strome into a turnover along Washington’s attacking zone blue line. 

    With his impressive footspeed, Beecher quickly turned the takeaway into a breakaway. After leaving Strome and Carlson out to dust, Beecher promptly delivered a backhander past Charlie Lindgren to give his team a 2-1 lead a mere 1:02 after Sgarbossa’s tally.

    “It’s kind of just something I need to rely on even more, my feet and my skating north-south,” Beecher said to the media. “I think there’s a couple of opportunities each game to kind of explode up the ice and try to put the d-men on their heels. I’ve been trying to do that more and more, and I’m really trying to find that and put that in my game more.

    The speedy Beecher may not possess a scoring touch similar to that of James van Riemsdyk when the veteran reaches his peak performance. Nor is he a player who can provide instant physical energy like Pat Maroon or Jakub Lauko.

    But van Riemsdyk and Lauko encountered significant struggles since returning from the all-star break. Between that and Maroon’s recovery from back surgery, Beecher’s reemergence into Boston’s fourth line provides a welcoming development heading into April.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    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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