TAMPA, Fla. — The Boston Bruins gained a point. Jeremy Swayman, making consecutive starts for the first time this season, stopped a season-high 41 shots.
But the Bruins were not pleased after allowing the game-tying goal to the Tampa Bay Lightning with 4.8 seconds remaining in regulation, then giving up the overtime winner.
“Giving up points like that, it’s unacceptable in our dressing room,” Charlie Coyle said after the 5-4 overtime loss. “We’ve got to close these games out. So we’re not cracking smiles right now.”
1. The Bruins had rotated Swayman and Linus Ullmark for the first 16 games. According to the rotation, Monday was Ullmark’s turn. Swayman had made 20 saves in the Bruins’ 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 18.
But Ullmark required maintenance, per coach Jim Montgomery, to the point where the Bruins did not want to risk continuing the rotation. Ullmark did not participate in Monday’s morning skate. Ullmark was healthy enough to take warmups and be available as Swayman’s backup.
So on Sunday, Swayman learned he’d be making his second straight start. He was ready.
“I expect to play every game,” said Swayman. “That’s my mentality. That’s the way I want to prepare. I was fired up when I got this opportunity. I wanted to seize it, right? It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to do that. So I was really excited about it. It doesn’t change my mindset moving forward.”
Swayman had no chance on the final two goals. Pavel Zacha tried to clear the puck during the six-on-five endgame situation. But Zacha went up the ice with his attempt. Victor Hedman got enough of his stick on the puck to keep it in.
Moments later, Nikita Kucherov dished a backhander below the dots and across the crease. Swayman could not get over in time to stop Steven Stamkos’ signature low one-timer.
In overtime, Charlie McAvoy appeared to head toward the bench for a line change. The Lightning took advantage of the defenseman’s forward momentum. Hedman threaded the puck onto Brandon Hagel’s stick. Hagel got behind the Bruins to beat Swayman on the breakaway 1:19 into overtime.
2. The Bruins were bleeding rush chances in the first period. They were not putting consistent pressure on Jonas Johansson.
McAvoy picked the right time to throw his most thunderous hit of the year.
As Tanner Jeannot skated down the left-side wall, McAvoy flattened his opponent with enough force to break the forward’s stick. Tyler Motte approached McAvoy to show his displeasure. McAvoy put Motte down too with a reverse hit.
Charlie McAvoy runs over Tanner Jeannot and then knocks down Tyler Motte: pic.twitter.com/roRHm0JyCA
— Evan Marinofsky (@EvanMarinofsky) November 21, 2023
“It got us more involved in the game because I thought we started to get to our game after that hit,” Montgomery said. “His understanding of momentum in the game and his impact on the game is very noticeable this year.”
The hit came naturally to McAvoy. That wasn’t always the case following his return from his four-game suspension for hitting Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the head.
“I didn’t hit anybody the first two games,” McAvoy said on Sunday with a smile. “I’m trying to be as under control as possible. I’m thinking about it. I’m absolutely thinking about it. I don’t want to get in trouble again. I can’t do that to myself or the team too.”
It was probably no coincidence that McAvoy’s physicality grabbed his teammates’ attention. They were not as leaky in transition as they were in the first 10 minutes of the opening period.
“That’s a big play in a game where you can really get some momentum from that,” Coyle said. “That’s what Charlie does. He recognizes situations. Whatever the game calls for, he’s pretty good at stepping up and making whatever play that is. Whether that’s a big hit, big goal or just being poised with the puck and making good plays out there himself. He’s pretty smart about what the game needs and what we need at that given moment.”
3. The Bruins killed five of the Lightning’s six power plays. Derek Forbort led all players with 6:09 of short-handed ice time.
Montgomery took exception to several of the calls. David Pastrnak was especially upset he was called for roughing in the second period. Nick Paul scored a net-front tip on the power play with Pastrnak in the box.
“Our players sacrifice for each other,” Montgomery said. “It’s just unfortunate we had to kill that much.”
4. McAvoy started the night with Mason Lohrei as his left-side partner. That did not last long. Montgomery juggled his pairings to the point where Lohrei and Ian Mitchell, playing in place of Kevin Shattenkirk, were practically out of the action.
Lohrei, on the ice for Jeannot’s opening goal, played a career-low 12:46. Mitchell played 13:22.
Matt Grzelcyk will be on long-term injured reserve for one more game against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Grzelcyk will be eligible to return on Nov. 24 against the Detroit Red Wings.
5. Lohrei and Mitchell were not the only players to see their shifts slashed. Matt Poitras played a career-low 9:58. John Beecher took some of Poitras’ shifts on the No. 3 line next to Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk.
(Photo: Kim Klement Neitzel / USA Today)