PHILADELPHIA — Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are dragging their teammates toward the playoffs.
Three days after Marchand’s hat trick in Boston, Bergeron provided another on Broad Street. Those two on Tuesday powered the shorthanded Bruins to a 4-2 win over the Flyers here, boosting their edge in the East Division.
Some five weeks from the postseason, the fourth-place Bruins (20-10-6) have a 5-point edge and two games in hand on the fifth-place Flyers (18-15-5).
Maybe over the next 20 games, the Bruins will have their top two netminders and No. 1 defenseman back and healthy. That wasn’t the case at the Wells Fargo Center, where Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak, and Charlie McAvoy were not seen. The Bruins squandered a 2-0 lead, on a pair of Bergeron goals, in a miserable second period (outshot, 25-7). Debuting netminder Jeremy Swayman was seeing rubber like he did during his days in Hockey East.
No matter. The Bruins allowed four shots in the third, taking better care of their own zone. They got a shorthanded strike from Marchand (1-3—4) and an empty-netter from Bergeron (3-0—3). That made a winner out of Swayman, 22, who was named second star after making 40 saves.
“He was pretty relaxed,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “What I’ve been told is he’s used to some of those nights at Maine, but that’s atypical of our team. He deserved much better support than we gave him. He got it in the third. I’m happy for him.”
Swayman, called on with Rask (upper body) and Halak (COVID list) out, and fellow rookie Dan Vladar resting after working the previous night in Boston, was beaming afterward. He was also beaming during the game, as the cameras showed.
“First off, what an incredible experience,” Swayman said. “My mentality was, don’t get too high, don’t get too low. I learned that from [goalie coach] Alfie Michaud back at Maine. That’s going to stick with me for a long time. One shot at a time.”
On the winning goal, struggling rookie defenseman Jeremy Lauzon made the right play. After Marchand created a shorthanded turnover to the slot, Lauzon took the open ice and rushed 2 on 1 with Marchand. Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere played him tightly, sliding over to deny the pass. Lauzon got it over anyway.
“Made a heck of a play,” Cassidy said of Lauzon, whose penalty trouble severely hurt the Bruins the night before.
You can guess what happened next. Marchand deked to open Carter Hart’s pads, slipped it through, and the Bruins had a lead to protect.
The returning Kevan Miller (22:25) and Lauzon (24:09) helped kill the final 6 on 5, until Marchand and Bergeron teamed up to end it.
“Every one of those guys came up to me after and congratulated me,” Swayman said. “That just goes to show what kind of organization we have. My job is to stop pucks, and that’s what I wanted to do for the team. I know if I’m going to do my job, they’re going to do theirs.”
Without McAvoy (upper body, a late scratch), the Bruins struggled to defend their zone, get out of their zone, and stay in the opposite end. The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 38-18, through two periods of a tie game. After a relatively tidy first by the visitors, the home team battered the Bruins. They scored twice in the second and hit two posts.
Swayman, essentially, was learning to swim by being tossed over the side of a boat in a Nor’easter. He allowed two goals off of defensive breakdowns, bailed out his mates with a pair of breakaway stops — on blocked shots that went the other way — and was huge during two penalty kills. He had 36 saves by the second period of his first career start.
It was 1-0 at 7:09, after Bergeron potted a rebound created by Marchand’s stickhandling out high, the shot he slung on the net and Craig Smith’s tip off Carter Hart’s chest. Bergeron had his 13th goal of the year, and 900th career point (fourth among Bruins).
Swayman came up big on the 2-0 goal. After Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton turned a Matt Grzelcyk fumble into a shorthanded breakaway, Swayman made a pad stop. The Bruins took the rebound and raced the other way, Marchand and David Pastrnak setting up Bergeron for a one-timer he jammed through the five-hole.
Swayman’s first puck touch was a reverse to his defenseman. His first save was a blocker job on Nicolas Aube-Kubel. The first big stop of his career came shorthanded, on a Joel Farabee redirect in the slot.
“That’s a positioning play, most of all,” said Swayman, who also blockered aside a Nolan Patrick try off the rush on that first-period penalty kill. “I can’t take credit for cat-like reflexes, because that’s just a seeing-eye shot. I was lucky enough to have my glove there.”
Jakub Zboril’s rookie struggles continued. He was on the ice for both Flyers goals through 40 minutes, benched for a long stretch of the second, and finished as the low man on defense (12:11 TOI).
Swayman lifted him with a breakaway save, after a first-period blocked shot went the other way. In the second, before the Flyers made it 2-1 at the 1:33 mark, Zboril tripped and lost the puck to Travis Konecny, who found Jake Voracek for a tap-in. He logged one more shift in the second after the next Flyers goal, a Shayne Gostisbehere strike at 4:03.
The Bruins were outshot, 9-1, and outscored, 2-0, in the first 7:00 of the second. The Flyers tied the score amid more Bruins puck-chasing. On an extended shift in the defensive zone, Trent Frederic lost his stick, and his man, Gostisbehere, got loose and ripped a shot over Swayman’s glove. It was one of the only misplays for the netminder, who went down and couldn’t get a push across, leaving plenty of space high.
“He was battling all night,” Bergeron said of the newcomer. “He gave us a true chance to win. That poise was evident from the get-go. He looked ready. He looked calm. He was the same way on the ice. Good for him. Hopefully many more to come.”