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Swayman Embraces Opportunity in Debut Victory

Rookie netminder made 40 saves in Boston's 4-2 win over Philly

by Eric Russo @erusso22 /

PHILADELPHIA - Jeremy Swayman's main priority on Tuesday night was to help the Bruins secure two points. But the rookie netminder also wanted to embrace the moment.

From the time he hit the ice in Philadelphia for warmups until the final buzzer sounded, the 22-year-old made sure to have a smile on his face no matter what came his way.

"It's a game and it's a game that I love," said Swayman. "I enjoyed every second of it. That's what a lot of the vets told me going into it, especially Tuukks. Enjoy it, it's once in a lifetime. That's exactly what I did. I love this game. To do it on the biggest stage with the best players in the world, how could you not have fun doing that? It was fun, it was fun."

It was, indeed.

Swayman had a night to remember with an impressive NHL debut that included 40 saves to help pace the Bruins to a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center. The 42 shots that Swayman faced were the most for a Bruins goalie in his first start since Bernie Parent saw 44 on Nov. 3, 1965.

"What an incredible experience. To get a win here in Philly means everything, being the first one," said Swayman, who was named the game's second star. "My mentality throughout the game was don't get too high, don't get too low. I learned that from [assistant coach] Alife Michaud back [at the University of] Maine. That's gonna stick with me for a long time. One shot at a time."

The shots came fast and furious for the former Hobey Baker finalist, who took on a Flyers' barrage in the second period during which Philadelphia peppered him with 25 shots. The 2017 fourth-round pick turned away 23 of them to keep things even at 2 through 40 minutes.

"He's pretty relaxed, competitive guy, obviously," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "What I've been told is he's been used to some of those nights at Maine, but that's atypical of our team. I thought we did a nice job in the third, obviously, in front of him. He deserved it. He deserved much better support than we gave him, and he eventually got it in the third. I'm happy for him, got his first NHL win. Certainly earned it, important game for us. Good for Sway."

Video: Swayman Speaks after 1st NHL Start and Win

Swayman saw just four shots in the third period as the Bruins tightened things up defensively, which proved to be a more difficult task than usual for the Black & Gold, who were without ace blue liner Charlie McAvoy due to an upper-body injury. The young netminder did his part, too, as his strong effort between the pipes helped to set up Brad Marchand's shorthanded winner with 8:21 gone in the third.

"I think it was about this young guy going in, playing his first NHL game, basically standing on his head to keep us in the game," Cassidy said of the B's turnaround in the third. "The guys that have NHL talent need to provide NHL effort with that talent in the checking game and managing pucks. Guys that aren't quite at the same level as NHL talent, they have to work on their NHL execution and make good reads and decisions.

"We asked for a little bit of both from each kind of player, or each category the player falls into, and I thought we got it. Certainly got it on that shorthanded goal by [Jeremy] Lauzon, made a heck of a play [to Marchand on a 2-on-1]. Shortened the bench a little for the guys that were willing to check and manage pucks and play the right way to help our goaltender and it worked out for us."

Swayman was strong from the jump, stopping all 13 shots he faced in the opening period, including a stellar shutdown of Scott Laughton's shorthanded breakaway attempt midway through the frame. The Alaska native calmly kicked the shot away to the left circle where Patrice Bergeron picked up the loose puck and started an odd-man rush back the other way.

The sequence ended with Bergeron ripping home a David Pastrnak feed on the power play for his second goal of the period to give Boston a 2-0 lead with 2:28 remaining in the first.

"He was great. Really happy for him, well deserved win," Bergeron, who potted a hat trick and notched his 900th career point, said of Swayman. "He was battling all night. He gave us a true chance to win, especially in that second period.

"That poise was evident, the way he prepared in the locker room. He looked ready, he looked calm and he was the same way on the ice. Good for him and hopefully many more to come."

Video: BOS@PHI: Bergeron one-times a PPG from the slot

Bergeron has been impressed with what he has seen from Swayman and his fellow rookie netminder Daniel Vladar, both of whom have subbed in admirably for Tuukka Rask (upper body) and Jaroslav Halak (COVID protocol) in recent weeks. The duo became the first pair of Bruins goalies to make their first NHL starts in the same season since Scott Bailey and Robbie Tallas in 1995-96.

"It's great to see," said Bergeron. "Needless to say, it's probably the most important position in hockey. We've been fortunate in my time here with some amazing goalies and it seems like the future is bright. It's always a great sign."

Swayman was grateful for the support he has received from Bergeron, Rask, and the rest of the Bruins' dressing room.

"Every one of those guys came up to me after to congratulate me," said Swayman. "That just goes to show what kind of organization we have. At the end of the day, my job is to stop pucks. That's what I wanted to do in order to give the team a chance to win.

"I know if I do my job, they're gonna do theirs and that's exactly what happened tonight. It was a great team win. I'm super happy about it."

It was a night that Swayman will cherish forever. But he's far from satisfied.

"I'm gonna come to the rink every day and be ready to learn," said Swayman. "Hockey's that kind of sport that can humble you if you think you know everything. I know I'm gonna do everything I can to learn more every day."

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