Always ready, that Linus Ullmark.
After providing three stellar periods and saving the Bruins from a Winter Classic loss, Ullmark looked like he was primed to play more.
The netminder showed up to a postgame news conference in the No. 35 vintage Red Sox uniform he wore to work, adding a navy catcher’s mask and glove. During a question-and-answer session, Ullmark put his foot on the table.
He was wearing spikes. Real ones. Watch out.
“When we put our minds to it, we’re a heck of a team,” he said after continuing his Vezina Trophy-caliber season by stopping 26 shots in a 2-1 win over the Penguins.
Ullmark has become a heck of a goalie, leading the league with a 21-1-1 record, 1.86 goals against average, and .939 save percentage. He has kept his mates in the mix if they start sloppy, or sluggish as they did Monday.
“His elite consistency has been unreal,” Bruins coach Jim Montgomery said. “If it wasn’t for him, we’d probably be down 3-0 after two [periods].”
Ullmark saw the 2008 debut of the Winter Classic at home in Sweden, and always dreamed of playing in one — even if there was a few heart-stopping moments at the end Monday, such as when Evgeni Malkin’s shot crossed the line after time expired.
“It was a lot of chaos there,” Ullmark said. “I don’t know how much was left of the game at the end [when the puck went in]. It felt like we had it under control. It was just pure joy and happiness afterward.”
Dressed for success
The Bruins’ uniform supplier, Custom Crafted in North Attleborough, helped the Bruins steal the show before puck drop.
The players rolled up to Fenway Park in Red Sox uniforms circa 1935, and played catch on a field of dreams covered in blankets of faux snow. Custom Crafted sized and fitted all players with caps, jerseys, pants, socks, and belts — and contracted an outside supplier for vintage gloves — in the weeks before the game.
The company got blank cream-colored jerseys and navy caps and cut period-appropriate logos for the “BOSTON” front and “B” cap.
“True to authenticity,” Bruins equipment manager Keith Robinson said. “Same font, same numbers.”
The players were on their own for footwear, and several players, Ullmark among them, wore real spikes.
The vintage garb was the idea of Patrice Bergeron, who discussed it with other team leaders after they were informed the Winter Classic was coming back to Fenway.
“We thought it was the perfect idea,” Bergeron said, adding that paying homage to the Red Sox and Fenway’s history was the goal.
“Mind-blowing,” Ullmark called them.
Montgomery loved the Bruins’ choice of attire, likening it to costumes from “Field of Dreams” and “Eight Men Out.”
“Initially it was our preparation and what we need to do in order to have success against the Penguins,” the coach said before puck drop. “Then the guys walked in vintage Red Sox outfits. Again, you come back to how lucky we are to be at such a great event.”
The Penguins also paid homage to America’s pastime, showing up in Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms of a more recent era. While it seemed likely that Bergeron and longtime Team Canada teammate Sidney Crosby would have checked signals, they didn’t.
Robinson said his colleagues in Pittsburgh asked what the Bruins were planning, but he refused to reveal.
“We did not coordinate with the Bruins,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, a Marshfield product who was Bergeron’s first coach in Boston (2003-04). “It’s not my understanding that we did. I’m not sure. Quite honestly, I’m not even sure where the ideas came from. But having said that, I think it’s really appropriate at an event like this, at such an iconic stadium.”
Saluting the stars
As part of the pregame ceremony, Red Sox legends Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek and Bruins greats Johnny Bucyk and Zdeno Chara came out, followed by Bobby Orr. He arrived with a hockey stick — a new composite model, not his traditional wooden Northland with a single wrap of black tape — and after shaking hands and posing with captains Bergeron and Crosby, Orr one-hopped a wrist shot at Varitek, who was crouching behind home plate . . . Backed by the Boston Pops, longtime local favorites Bell Biv DeVoe sang the national anthem, in front of an American flag that stretched the length of the Green Monster. Fireworks and a pair of F-15 fighter jets thundering over the ballpark closed the scene . . . Denna Laing, the Marblehead-born player for the Boston Pride who suffered a spinal cord injury that left her paralyzed during a women’s game the day before the 2016 Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium, made an appearance on the video board before the game . . . The Penguins were without star defenseman Kris Letang. According to Sullivan, Letang returned home to Montreal after his father, Claude Fouquet, died while the team was in Boston. Letang was already dealing with a lower-body injury. Additionally, defenseman Jeff Petry and forward Josh Archibald were unable to play . . . Taylor Hall landed a game-high five shots on nine attempts. Jake DeBrusk also put five pucks on net . . . The Bruins’ Tomas Nosek, back in his No. 4 center role after missing the previous two games, logged two hits and a shot in 9:47 . . . Trent Frederic returned to the third line and played 11:25 . . . Craig Smith was the No. 4 right wing, bumping A.J. Greer out of the lineup. Smith logged just 5:32, including two shifts in the third period . . . Both teams were 0 for 3 on the power play . . . The Penguins had a sizable edge in the faceoff circle (56 percent).