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Defenseman Anton Stralman returns to Bruins’ lineup for game against Flyers

Stralman was back in the lineup for the Bruins Thursday night.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Jakub Zboril, riding high Saturday night in Buffalo upon scoring his first NHL goal some 7½ years after he was drafted, wasn’t even riding the bench on Thursday night against the Flyers.

The 25-year-old Czech defenseman, hoping this would be the season he finally cracked the Bruins lineup full time, moved to the sidelines in order for veteran Anton Stralman to get in only his fifth game of the season, and first since Nov. 3.

The move made sense, because Stralman, 36, has to keep his game tuned if he is to be of legitimate help to Jim Montgomery’s roster over what is the 82-game season. However, that’s little solace for Zboril, who has but 66 games on his NHL résumé, in part because he missed most of last season with a knee injury and subsequent surgery.


Zboril’s first goal broke a 1-1 deadlock and proved to be the winner in the 3-1 triumph over the Sabres. He then clocked 12:09 in the next night’s 5-2 win over the Canucks at the Garden. Whatever mojo he felt he might have going came to a pause Thursday morning when Montgomery announced that the Stralman-for-Zboril swap would be his lone roster change for the visit by the Flyers.

Meanwhile, Stralman paired with Brandon Carlo on the No. 3 defense unit, providing the lanky Carlo with perhaps the smoothest-skating partner he has had in his six-plus seasons with the Bruins.

Stralman suited up for his 935th NHL game in the Bruins’ 4-1 win. He was hired by the Bruins, making the roster via a training camp PTO, because general manager Don Sweeney wanted a stable right shot veteran as a depth contributor.

Stralman is old by NHL standards, as are fellow 30-somethings Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and now even Brad Marchand, but his experience could prove invaluable if the Bruins work deep into a playoff run. Years ago, Stralman logged 81 playoff games over one four-year stretch (2012-15) with the Rangers and Lightning.


So while Zboril would be justifiably disappointed, it would be pointless to keep Stralman stored in the barn and expect him to stay playoff-fit. Originally a Maple Leafs draft pick, he had not suited up since the Nov. 3 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and remained out of the lineup even though Derek Forbort broke a finger that night in Manhattan.

Stralman, seen here battling for possession with Philadelphia's Owen Tippett in the second period Thursday night, was playing in his 935th game in the NHL.Steven Senne/Associated Press

Following the morning workout in Brighton, Stralman summarized the last two months as “a crazy start.” It took the better part of two weeks for the usual bureaucratic issues to clear with his work visa, once he finally secured his one-year contract off his strong tryout.

Once able to play, he’s had to wait, and wait, and wait.

“I’ve been able to play catch-up a little bit, work on my game, sort of behind the scenes,” he said. “And just be ready when that call came, and tonight’s the night. It’s good we had a couple of days [Tuesday and Wednesday] to practice and I feel like I am in a good spot mentally and physically.

“It’s a team sport and I am here to win. And the team’s winning, so that makes me happy.”

Stralman, who landed the club’s first shot on net with a bold rush up the right side, logged 15:51 in ice time and squeezed off a total of five shots, two that made it to the net.


The Swede is a smooth-as-honey skater, and he looked extremely comfortable playing on his off (left side) in the pairing with Carlo.

“Very much so,” said Montgomery, asked if he was impressed by Stralman’s ease of play on his off side. “Usually people that are intelligent and can skate well can play their off side as a defenseman.”

Ullmark in net

Even though Jeremy Swayman was good to go, his injured knee back in shape, Montgomery opted to go with the hot-handed Linus Ullmark in net against the Flyers.

Linus Ullmark, seen here making a first-period save on Philadelphia's Noah Cates Thursday night, has now won 12 of 13 to start the season.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Ullmark, who improved to 12-1-0, already is approaching nearly half the wins he posted last season in his 26-10-2, Black and Gold debut. In 14 appearances, he has recorded a 1.88 goals-against mark and .937 save percentage. He is the league leader in all three categories.

The Bruins are now a franchise-best 10-0-0 on home ice from the start of the season. Ullmark has an 8-0-0 mark on Causeway Street, yielding only 13 goals, turning back 228 of 241 shots for a .946 save percentage.

The Blackhawks come to town Saturday night. If Swayman gets the start, it will be his first work since Nov. 1 at Pittsburgh, the night he wrenched his left knee in a brief (14:06) relief appearance of Ullmark. Swayman had stopped all four shots he faced before the injury, and Ullmark, who earlier gave up five goals, bricked up the net from there for what became a 6-5 win.


Helping out

David Pastrnak picked up an assist with a pinpoint slap pass that led to Jake DeBrusk’s goal for a 2-0 lead. Otherwise, Pastrnak fired 11 times total but landed but two shots on net and did not score. It was his third straight game without a goal … Charlie McAvoy picked up his second assist and Hampus Lindholm his 14th, adding to the improved production from the backliners … Tomas Nosek won 7 of his 9 faceoffs, while Bergeron had a rare night underwater (11 wins, 14 losses) … A strong night for the club’s Czech connection. Nosek, Krejci, Pastrnak, and Pavel Zacha had a collective line of 3-3–6 … Taylor Hall landed a game-high six shots on net, hitting the mark with all of his attempts.

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