Led by a 42-save shutout performance from Jeremy Swayman, the undermanned Bruins bounced back Thursday night — and against a quality opponent — with a 2-0 victory over the Predators at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.
Dialed in throughout the evening, the 23-year-old Swayman kept the rebounds to a minimum, was rarely (if ever) swimming without a prayer, and seemed to save his best work for when the Bruins needed it most.
With Charlie Coyle (really Erik Haula) was whistled for a roughing penalty against Nick Cousins, the Nashville power play, a top-six unit in the NHL, went to work looking for the game that would help spark a potential comeback and plant a seed of doubt in the reeling Bruins. The Preds’ Matt Duchene had a pair of golden chances during that power-play opportunity — the first on an all-alone slapshot blast to Swayman’s right, and another from the home-plate area in front of Swayman — but found himself denied by the Black and Gold’s No. 1 on both occasions.
A killer at all strengths in this contest, Swayman came through with another dazzler of a stop late in the third period, with a slap-pass redirect from Roman Josi to Colton Sissons and towards Swayman’s net denied by the Boston rookie.
The 42 saves by the night’s end were a new career-high for Swayman, while the shutout was the first of his season, and his third since jumping to the NHL late last season. And with the shutout, Swayman actually became the first goaltender in Bruins history to post a shutout over the Predators.
At the other end of the rink, the Bruins opened the scoring in this game up with a power-play marker from Jake DeBrusk at the 14:38 mark of the first period. The fourth goal of the 25-year-old’s season, it’s the kind of production that DeBrusk needs to have if he wants to accelerate his departure from Boston, and what the Bruins will certainly take in an effort to create a bidding war for the winger who’s made it known that he wants a fresh start with a new organization.
Jake DeBrusk snaps one home on the power play.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) December 3, 2021
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/Z1eCclPJ0R
Up 1-0 through 20 minutes of action, the Bruins doubled their lead just 30 seconds into the second period with a Brandon Carlo blast (his second of the season) that beat Nashville’s Juuse Saros.
Elsewhere, this may been Erik Haula’s most cursed game of the season. In addition to that garbage penalty, which I guess if you’re looking for penalties didn’t actually lead to him sitting in the box, the 30-year-old Haula was denied by a crossbar and a post on two separate chances, and caught a Mark Borowiecki stick to the throat in the third period. The good news: Haula looked solid skating with Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith, and had the primary helper on Carlo’s goal.
On the injury front, the Bruins lost Jakub Zboril to a scary-looking lower-body injury. Zboril left the ice without putting any weight on his leg, and was quickly ruled out by the Bruins. This means that the Bruins have officially inched closer to that roster chaos, as an injury to Zboril would throw Connor Clifton back into action and leave Boston with no extra help on deck.
The victory was also acting head coach Joe Sacco’s first win as an NHL head coach since Apr. 26, 2013, which came back when Sacco was the head coach of the Avalanche.
The Bruins will return to Boston for a Saturday night head-to-head with the Lightning.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.