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Capitals 2, Bruins 1

Jeremy Swayman absorbed a tough-luck loss, but the Bruins are sticking with the rookie as backup goalie in playoffs

Jeremy Swayman made 30 saves Tuesday against the Caps.Scott Taetsch/Getty

WASHINGTON — The night ended upside-down for Jeremy Swayman, a Michael Raffl shot from an impossible angle banging off the back of the rookie goalie’s helmet and dropping into the net with three seconds remaining in regulation.

The shot broke a 1-1 tie and delivered the Capitals a 2-1 win over the Bruins at Capital One Arena Tuesday night in what was the regular-season finale for both clubs.

But within just a few minutes of that hard-luck ending, the 22-year-old Swayman officially was named by coach Bruce Cassidy to be Tuukka Rask’s backup when the clubs meet again here Saturday night to begin the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Not a bad rebound for Swayman, who just one year ago left the University of Maine to turn pro and now has a front-row seat, second to the veteran Rask, in what many believe is the greatest postseason show on earth.

“I think he’s earned that,” said Cassidy, confirming that Swayman was his backup choice over veteran Jaroslav Halak. “Obviously, a tough call with Jaro with his experience. [Swayman has] just played more here down the stretch.”

With Halak out of the mix for much of April, while he was sidelined in accordance with the league’s COVID-19 protocols, the bright-eyed Swayman took full advantage of his relief opportunity. The loss here dropped him to 7-3-0 in 10 starts, but he posted stellar marks in goals-against average (1.50) and save percentage (.945).

Jeremy Swayman will be the primary backup to Tuukka Rask for the postseason.Nick Wass/Associated Press

In only a matter of a few weeks, Swayman has become the franchise’s most promising goalie draftee since Bill Ranford some 35 years ago.

“I thought Swayman grabbed the ball and ran with it,” added Cassidy. “So that’s the decision there. But that could change, you know, as we go along as Jaro gets more reps [in practice]. But as of now, I think Swayman’s done everything we asked. I thought he was solid again tonight tracking pucks.”


The Raffl shot, noted Cassidy, was launched on left wing, from a few inches behind the goal line, and ricocheted into the net. Impossible odds and an improbable finish on a night Swayman made 30 saves, a handful of which came off far more high-danger chances.

“That happens probably once a year,” said Cassidy. “It happened to happen tonight. I thought he played well. Not a lot of shots where he looked uncomfortable, or out of position or scrambling around. Again, another solid outing for him.”

Curtis Lazar provided the Bruins with a brief 1-0 lead in the second period, and Carl Hagelin scored for the Capitals, who finished the season 36-15-5 for 77 points. The Bruins ended their campaign 33-16-7 for 73 points.

Despite dressing their less-than-ready-for-prime-time lineup, the Bruins were locked in a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes. Down in Providence, home of the WannaBs, word was they were getting the duck boats ready.

Lazar, one of general manager Don Sweeney’s three deadline pickups, knocked home the night’s first goal at 10:11 of the second period, set up in front with a feed off right wing by Jarred Tinordi.

“For a guy like myself, new to the team, I didn’t know like 60 percent of them until tonight before the game, shaking hands and whatnot,” said Lazar, noting all the new faces in the lineup, with Cassidy opting to rest his regulars.


The Capitals, playing a good portion of their varsity, pulled even, 1-1, with 3:45 go before the second intermission, and it was ex-Bruins captain Zdeno Chara who set the strike in motion. Big Z wristed in a 58-footer, from high above the left circle, and it was the speedy Hagelin who provided the last touch on a doorstep jam against Swayman.

The Capitals held a 26-14 shot lead through the first 40 minutes, but the scoreboard remained at 1-1. Alex Ovechkin led the way for the Capitals with seven shot attempts, three of which made it to Swayman, while Cameron Hughes led Bruins shooters with six attempts, three making it to the net.

Hughes centered a line with Anton Blidh and Karson Kuhlman, a trio with a decidedly Providence look.

Chris Wagner tumbles to the ice in front of Washington goaltender Vitek Vanecek during the second period of Tuesday's game.Nick Wass/Associated Press

But such was the case up and down the lineup of misfit toys. Lazar’s line, though, included two other Boston regulars, with Jake DeBrusk to his left and Chris Wagner to high right.

Wagner, Nick Ritchie, and defenseman Steven Kampfer all wore the “A” on the front of their sweaters, designating them as the night’s alternate captains. No one wore the “C” left behind by the resting Patrice Bergeron.

Ritchie, with a career-high 15 goals this season, worked left wing on a trio with Greg McKegg and Zach Senyshyn.

Jack Studnicka, who looks like he could hold a full-time center job in the near future, pivoted a line with Trent Frederic and Oskar Steen.

In back, where Cassidy rested all the blue liners he figures will start here on Saturday, Jakub Zboril paired up with Connor Clifton, while Tinordi worked with Kampfer, and youngsters Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Ahcan rounded out the pairings.


“I thought they responded well,” said Cassidy, reflecting on the youth and inexperience of his lineup. “Obviously, as the game went along, some of the guys got a little more comfortable. That’s normal. Other guys stepped right in and did a good job.”

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.