Jake DeBrusk scored the game’s first goal, which went on to become the eventual game-winning goal thanks to Jeremy Swayman’s 42-save shutout effort Thursday night in a, 2-0, win for the Boston Bruins over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Swayman (7-4-0, 2.20 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 11 games played) stopped all 42 shots that he faced in the shutout win for Boston.
Nashville netminder, Juuse Saros (10-8-1, 2.34 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 19 games played) made 31 saves on 33 shots against in the loss.
The Bruins improved to 12-8-0 (24 points) on the season and remain in 5th place in the Atlantic Division– three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for 4th.
Meanwhile, the Predators dropped to 12-10-1 (25 points) overall and fell to 5th place in the Central Division by virtue of a tiebreaker to the Colorado Avalanche (in which the Avs have the advantage in accordance with games in-hand).
Entering Thursday night, the last time the B’s and Preds faced each other was on Jan. 7, 2020, at Bridgestone Arena.
Boston won, 6-2, as Tuukka Rask made 34 saves on the road.
The two teams did not meet last season due to the temporarily realigned divisions for the condensed 56-game regular season and 2021 Stanley Cup Playoff format.
The Bruins were without the services of Anton Blidh (upper body) and Brad Marchand (suspension) on the roster against the Predators Thursday night, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, remained in the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol.
Joe Sacco, as a result, made a minor change to his lines after Tuesday night’s, 2-1, loss to the Red Wings– moving Erik Haula to the second line left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Craig Smith on right wing, while relegating Nick Foligno to the third line with Trent Frederic in the middle and Karson Kuhlman on the opposite wing.
Sacco made no other changes among his skaters, while Linus Ullmark served as Swayman’s backup in Nashville.
Thursday night marked Smith and Haula’s return to Bridgestone Arena since the two last played for the Predators.
Smith spent nine seasons as a Pred from 2011-20, prior to signing his current three-year contract with the Bruins ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Haula, meanwhile, spent all of last season with the Predators prior to joining Boston in free agency on July 28th.
Connor Clifton was the only healthy scratch for Boston, while Taylor Hall took part in his 700th career NHL game.
Midway through the opening frame, Yakov Trenin interfered with Jakub Zboril, yielding the night’s first power play for the Bruins at 12:39 of the first period, but not before Trent Frederic and Mark Borowiecki exchanged some shoves that resulted in matching roughing minors.
Boston had a 5-on-4 advantage for a pair of minutes and used up almost all of the time on the power play before hitting the back of the net.
Smith fed the puck to DeBrusk (4) for the shot from the faceoff circle over Saros’ blocker and under the bar to give the B’s a, 1-0, lead.
Smith (3) and Coyle (6) tallied the assists on DeBrusk’s power-play goal at 14:38 of the first period.
Despite being outshot for a large part of the first period, the Bruins entered the first intermission with the, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard and a, 15-12, advantage in shots on net.
Boston also led in blocked shots (5-3), while Nashville controlled the flow of the game in takeaways (3-0) and hits (6-5). Both teams had three giveaways each and split faceoff winning percentage, 50-50, through 20 minutes of play.
The Predators had yet to see time on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 1/1 on the power play entering the middle frame.
Less than a minute into the second period, Coyle won a battle along the boards, which freed up a loose puck on a turnover to Haula before Haula passed it back to Brandon Carlo as Carlo snuck in from the point to the high slot.
Carlo (2) blasted a shot while Smith screened Saros and the rubber biscuit found its way to the back of the twine to give the Bruins a two-goal lead.
Haula (3) was Carlo’s only teammate to record an assist on the goal as Boston jumped ahead, 2-0, 30 seconds into the second period.
With the assist on the goal, however, Haula reached the 200-point plateau in his NHL career.
Moments later, Zboril was injured on a routine hit along the boards, in which Tanner Jeannot didn’t do anything wrong.
Zboril’s right knee took the brunt of the force as his body collided with the boards in the neutral zone, leaving Zboril to be helped off the ice by a teammate after the whistle.
The Bruins tweeted early in the third period that Zboril would not return to the night’s action with a lower body injury.
Meanwhile, back in the tail-end of the middle frame, Mattias Ekholm tripped up Kuhlman at 19:40 and cut a rut to the sin bin as a result.
Boston’s ensuing power play would spill into the final frame as the horn signaled the end of the second period.
The Bruins led, 2-0, despite trailing in shots on goal, 26-24.
Nashville led in shots on net in the second period alone, 14-9, as well as in takeaways (4-2) and hits (21-11), while Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (10-6), giveaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (59-41).
The Predators had yet to see any action on the skater advantage through 40 minutes, while the B’s were 1/2 on the power play entering the third period.
Coyle roughed up Nick Cousins and cut a rut to the penalty box as a result at 6:04 of the third period, presenting the Preds with their first power play of the night.
Nashville couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.
Midway through the final frame, Filip Forsberg was sent to the box for holding at 10:18, followed by Borowiecki for high sticking at 12:02, resulting in a two-skater advantage for Boston for about 16 seconds before an abbreviated 5-on-4 power play.
The Bruins weren’t able to muster anything past Saros this time around, however, as neither team scored a goal in the third period.
With about 2:30 remaining in the action, Pred head coach, John Hynes, pulled his goaltender for an extra attacker.
After a stoppage with 1:57 left on the clock, Hynes used his team’s timeout to rally his skaters, but it was to no avail.
At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 2-0, as Swayman picked up his first shutout of the season– the third overall in his short NHL career thus far.
Swayman joined the likes of Bill Ranford (3x), Tim Thomas (2x) and Jonas Gustavsson to become the fourth goaltender in Bruins history to notch a shutout with 42 or more saves.
The Bruins left Bridgestone Arena with the advantage in blocked shots (20-11), giveaways (8-5) and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Predators wrapped up Thursday night’s action leading in shots (42-33)– including a, 16-9, advantage in the third period alone, as well as the led in hits (24-13).
Nashville went 0/1 and Boston went 1/4 on the power play.
The B’s improved to 8-4-0 (4-2-0 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 9-0-0 (5-0-0 on the road) when leading after the first period and 8-1-0 (5-0-0 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
The Preds fell to 3-8-1 (2-4-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-8-0 (1-5-0 at home) when trailing after one and 2-8-0 (2-3-0 at home) when trailing after two periods in 2021-22.
The Bruins return home for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday before hitting the road through Western Canada next Wednesday (Dec. 8th), Thursday (Dec. 9th) and Saturday (Dec. 11th) in Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, respectively.
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