Linus Ullmark and Brandon Carlo, hanging on Jeremy Swayman’s every word, shouldered their way into a clutch of a dozen or more reporters who gathered around the Bruins goalie Sunday after his 7-0 shutout win (26 stops) over the Sabres in Buffalo.
The would-be journalists, paid slightly higher than cub-reporter wages, came prepared for the assignment.
Ullmark reached in from the back of the pack, a chicken wing propped in his right hand as a microphone. The equally inquisitive “Scoop” Carlo “recorded” the event with an oversized piece of pepperoni pizza, droplets of succulent grease dribbling down his outreached hand.
“The last couple of games have been a real good positive for our team,” said Swayman, doing his best to maintain a straight face amid the “Animal House”-like skit. “I think the ability this locker room has to forget about the past, not think about the future, just stay in the moment, play whistle to whistle, that’s something special.”
After lauding the entire team for its defensive effort, which helped deliver his second straight shutout and third in eight starts, Swayman looked at his two luv-ya-bro reporters, their pizza and wing still in recording mode.
“I love you guys back there,” he added.
All in all, a dramatic reversal in vibe from less than five nights earlier, a ragtag 6-3 loss Tuesday to the hapless Blackhawks in Chicago that dropped the Black and Gold to 0-2-0 on their five-game road trip.
They then rallied behind Swayman’s 36-stop effort in Winnipeg Thursday for a 3-0 win, established even better footing (with reporter Ullmark in net) with Saturday’s 5-2 win at St. Paul, and then regained full flight Sunday when seven different scorers connected against the fast-fading Sabres.
Swayman, who improved his record to 18-6-4, became the first Boston goaltender in more than 10 years to record back-to-back shutouts. Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas both did it early in the 2011-12 season. For his efforts, Swayman was named the NHL’s Third Star for the week.
Swayman is 6-2-0 in his last eight outings, dating back to his shutout win over the Predators Feb. 16. Ullmark, who’ll be in net Tuesday with the Senators in town, is 9-1-0 in his last 10, and leads all NHL tenders in wins (34), goals-against average (1.97), and save percentage (.935).
Early in the season, happy with the Ullmark-Swayman rotation, coach Jim Montgomery said he’d be inclined to shift the workload more to one of the starters as the playoffs approached. Now with 13 games to go, and the postseason roughly a month on the horizon, the coach on Sunday did not sound ready to break from the currently winning formula any time soon.
“We don’t think we need to stray from it right now,” said Montgomery. “I always talk to Goalie Bob [Essensa] and Sweens [GM Don Sweeney] about what we should be doing to get our goalies to be in the best position to be ready. We’ll continue to do that, but the rotation’s been working really well.
“You don’t need to fix anything that’s not broken.”
As Swayman wrapped up his media session in Buffalo, a beat reporter kiddingly asked if he had any nutrition tips.
“Uhh, yeah — pizza and wings!” he said. “OK, thanks guys.”
The session formally ended with Swayman taking a healthy bite out of Ullmark’s microphone, which appeared to be running medium hot, extra crispy, Buffalo-style.
Piling up points
Hampus Lindholm connected Sunday for his 10th goal, most among Bruins defensemen this season. The “Hammer” has posted a career-high 46 points and has a reasonable shot at breaking his personal best of 13 goals set in 2017-18 with the Ducks.
Lindholm, Jake DeBrusk, and Trent Frederic, each with three goals, topped the goal-scoring list for the five road games. DeBrusk (3-3–6), David Pastrnak (2-4–6), and Brad Marchand (0-6–6) led the way in total points during the five games.
Bruins backliners have combined for 37-138–175 through 69 games, following last season’s effort of 31-119–150 over 82 games.
The bedraggled Bruins power play finally showed some hints of recovery in St. Paul and Buffalo, with Pastrnak scoring once on the advantage in each game.
The Bruins have not scored more than one power-play goal in a game in 2023. The last: a 2-for-4 performance in a 7-3 win over the Panthers Dec. 19.
In 14 games since Feb. 18, the Bruins have gone 6 for 42 (14.3 percent) on the power play, while killing 36 of 43 opposing power plays over the same stretch. So, for all their struggles, they’ve been outscored only 7-6 on the advantage.
Pastrnak, now with 48 goals and zeroing in on his first golden 50, until Saturday had not scored a power-play goal since Jan. 22 vs. the Sharks.
Swayman’s shutout stretch now stands at 144:52, dating back to the 5-3 loss at the start of the trip last Sunday in Detroit … Dmitry Orlov, a healthy scratch in Buffalo, should be back in the lineup vs. the Senators … It’s possible that Taylor Hall, who began skating on his own last week in Brighton, will join the morning-of-game skate with the club Tuesday. Montgomery remained resolute in Buffalo that neither Hall nor fellow injured winger Nick Foligno would be available to play in the near future … A Czech-born player has scored in 54 of the Bruins’ 69 games this season. Would a Cup parade go from the River Charles to the Charles Bridge? If so, man the Duck Boats … Former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will run the Boston Marathon for charity, announcing his intentions on Instagram.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.