Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman and Charlie McAvoy dazzle in overtime win



EDMONTON — Jeremy Swayman was not at his sharpest in regulation. The Boston Bruins goalie allowed five goals on 40 shots. It was a high amount of rubber. But it was a number Swayman compounded by allowing rebounds on four of the Edmonton Oilers’ five goals.

One of the qualities coach Jim Montgomery appreciates about Swayman, however, is his short memory. In overtime, with James van Riemsdyk serving a tripping penalty, Swayman put regulation out of his mind when Connor McDavid threaded a seam pass to Leon Draisaitl.

Such sequences are usually money for Edmonton’s power play. But Swayman exploded from right to left to deny Draisaitl’s point-blank opportunity, keeping the score tied at 5-5.

“That power-play unit’s so talented,” Swayman said. “They see open guys all over the place. They just have firepower. Any one of those guys can shoot the puck. I just wanted to make sure I was able to get my body in front of potential shots and make sure I can make the first save as well as be there for the second shot as well. I thought our D-men did a great job of just giving me a shot and taking away passing lanes.”

Swayman’s game-saving stop set up Charlie McAvoy to do even more. After the Bruins killed the penalty, McAvoy dangled around Evander Kane, protected the puck from Stuart Skinner’s pokecheck and backhanded the winner home. Swayman gave McAvoy the tightest of post-win squeezes.

“I gave him a lot of minuses today,” Swayman said after the 6-5 win. “I owed him a couple saves, just the way he battled. He’s a leader on our team. He shows it every night. Really special for him to get that game winner and fight through all the adversity we faced together. I was very happy for him and gave him a lot of love at the end there.”

Wednesday’s start should have gone to Linus Ullmark. It would have extended the rotation that has held since Jan. 18. Swayman had stopped 43 shots in the previous game, a 4-3 shootout win over the Dallas Stars.

But Montgomery gave Swayman his second straight start. He wanted to stick with his hot goalie. That way, Montgomery could also save Ullmark for Thursday’s game against the Calgary Flames. Last season, Ullmark stopped 54 shots in a 4-3 overtime road win in Calgary. It just so happened that McAvoy scored the overtime winner in that game too.

There were times Wednesday when Montgomery might have been regretting his decision. The puck was not sticking to Swayman as usual. The Bruins, up 4-1 in the second period, found themselves tied at 4-4 at 7:24 of the third.

“His game was kind of like our team’s game,” Montgomery said. “Playing really well. And then things go not the way you want. But his mental makeup is unreal. He just thinks he’s going to stop every puck. He doesn’t worry about what just happened. He moves forward. That’s why he’s able to keep making saves.”

It didn’t help Swayman that the Bruins played with five defensemen for all but one shift. The first time Matt Grzelcyk took the ice in the first period, he tumbled after Ryan McLeod slashed him on the left foot. Grzelcyk stayed down for several minutes, then limped to the dressing room with assistance.

Grzelcyk returned to the bench with 5:58 remaining in the first. But he did not take any shifts for the rest of the period. His night ended after 35 seconds of work because of a lower-body injury. Montgomery classified Grzelcyk as day to day.

The Bruins were already without Hampus Lindholm, who is week to week because of an undisclosed injury. So Montgomery had to give Mason Lohrei, recalled from Providence because of Lindholm’s unavailability, more action than he expected. Lohrei responded with three assists and 23:32 of ice time, both career bests.

“I thought he was really good,” Montgomery said. “Played more direct, north, coming out of the D-zone and at the offensive blue line under pressure. When he had time and space, he made some real good plays. Thought he was really good on the power play as well.”

Brandon Carlo, Lohrei’s partner, played 25:40. Carlo blocked a game-high five shots. Parker Wotherspoon, a healthy scratch in three of the four previous games, played 20:14 and fought Corey Perry.

But McAvoy was the defense’s alpha dog. He played a game-high 30:10, shaking off an injury to his left leg following a collision with Zach Hyman in the first period.

“I don’t even know,” McAvoy told Sportsnet of how he proceeded with his winner. “I ended up in the slot. I wanted to shoot. It happened really fast. Still don’t know what happened. But we won, and that makes me really happy because it was kind of a frustrating night.”

(Photo of the Oilers’ Warren Foegele and the Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy and goaltender Jeremy Swayman: Perry Nelson / USA Today)





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