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NHL Nick's Net

Swayman blanks Senators in shutout victory

Jeremy Swayman picked up his second shutout of the season in a, 2-0, victory on the road against the Ottawa Senators as the Boston Bruins goaltender stopped all 30 shots that he faced Saturday afternoon at Canadian Tire Centre.

Swayman (9-7-2, 2.22 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in 19 games played) earned the fourth shutout of his career in the win for Boston, while depth scoring was paramount.

Senators goaltender, Matt Murray (5-8-2, 2.58 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 16 games played), made 35 saves on 37 shots against in the loss.

The Bruins improved to 27-16-3 (57 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.

Ottawa fell to 16-24-4 (36 points) on the season and stuck in 6th place in the Atlantic Division.

The B’s improved to 2-0-0 against the Sens this season, having won, 3-2, on Nov. 9th at TD Garden earlier this season.

Saturday marked the first game between the two teams at Canadian Tire Centre since Dec. 9, 2019, when the Senators beat the Bruins, 5-2, prior to the pandemic shortening the end of the 2019-20 regular season and preventing cross-border regular season travel in 2020-21.

Boston was without the likes of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Urho Vaakanainen (upper body), Patrice Bergeron (upper body), Brad Marchand (suspension) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) on Saturday in Ottawa.

Grzelcyk took part in warmup, but was not quite ready to return to action after being injured in the second period of Thursday night’s, 6-0, loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Tyler Lewington was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Friday, while Jack Ahcan was recalled from Providence and suited up on the second defensive pairing alongside Brandon Carlo.

With Grzelcyk out of the lineup, Mike Reilly was promoted to top-pairing duties with Charlie McAvoy.

Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup beyond Ahcan and Reilly.

A quick rush from one end of the rink to the other in the opening minute led to some dominant possession in the attacking zone for the Bruins that culminated in the game’s first goal courtesy of Trent Frederic (3).

Charlie Coyle worked a pass over to Craig Smith for a one-timer that generated a rebound right to where Frederic was crashing the slot on the doorstep to give Boston a, 1-0, lead 45 seconds into the first period.

Coyle (11) tabbed the only assist on the goal.

Almost midway into the opening frame, Austin Watson led with a late, high hit on Ahcan after Ahcan dished the puck around the boards in his own zone.

Watson was charged with a minor for interference, while Anton Blidh took issue with the integrity of Watson’s intent and was assessed a roughing infraction– negating a chance for a Boston power play and instead resulting in two minutes of 4-on-4 action at 8:09 of the first period.

Shortly thereafter, the Bruins went on a rare 4-on-3 power play for about 27 seconds as Thomas Chabot slashed Ahcan at 9:38.

Boston wasn’t able to convert on the skater advantage, however.

Midway through the period, Blidh sent a shot with a purpose off of Murray’s right pad and generated a rebound whereby Curtis Lazar (6) chipped the rubber biscuit over the line to give the B’s a two-goal lead.

Blidh (7) recorded the only assist on the goal as the Bruins took a, 2-0, lead at 13:26 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, Reilly cross checked Dylan Gambrell and presented the Senators with their first power play opportunity of the afternoon at 14:00.

The Sens weren’t able to capitalize on the skater advantage, however.

Late in the period, Tim Stützle caught Jake DeBrusk with a cross check in the neutral zone at 18:37, but the Bruins couldn’t convert on the power play even as it extended into the middle frame.

Heading into the first intermission, Boston led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 22-8, in shots on goal.

The B’s also held the advantage in takeaways (3-1) and faceoff win percentage (52-48), while the Sens led in giveaways (2-1) and hits (19-15).

Both teams amassed five blocked shots each after one period.

Ottawa was 0/1 and Boston was 0/2 on the power play entering the middle frame.

Smith tripped Stützle at 8:18 of the second period and yielded a power play to the Senators as a result for the only even of the second period as neither team was able to score, nor draw another infraction.

Entering the second intermission, the Bruins still led, 2-0, on the scoreboard, as well as in shots on goal, 28-16, despite trailing the Sens in shots on net in the second period alone, 8-6.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (11-10), takeaways (6-1) and faceoff win% (54-46), while Ottawa led in giveaways (5-3) and hits (39-34) through 40 minutes of action.

As there were no penalties called in the final frame, both teams finished 0/2 on the power play Saturday afternoon.

Blidh thought he made it, 3-0, when he sent a pass to Lazar entering the attacking zone before following up on a rebound– while Lazar tripped over Murray– and wrapping the rubber biscuit around the Senators goaltender.

The official call on the ice was that it was a good goal.

Ottawa’s head coach, D.J. Smith, however, thought it was worthy of a challenge.

Upon review, the call on the ice was overturned as it was deemed incidental contact between Lazar and Murray that had impeded with Murray’s ability to make a save on Blidh’s attempt– thereby rending it goaltender interference with no minor penalty and no goal.

With 3:46 remaining in the action, the Senators pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker.

Murray went back into the net after an icing call with about 90 seconds left in the game, but came back out of the crease shortly thereafter.

With 30.5 seconds left on the clock, Ottawa used their timeout to rally some semblance of a comeback, but failed to beat Swayman as the Bruins kept sending the puck down the frozen river in search of an empty net goal.

Boston missed the open twine three times, but it didn’t change the end result as the final horn sounded and signaled a, 2-0, shutout victory for the Bruins.

The B’s finished the afternoon leading in shots on goal, 37-30, despite being outshot by the Sens, 14-9, in the third period alone.

Boston wrapped things up leading in blocked shots (19-13) and faceoff win% (56-44), while Ottawa left their own building leading in giveaways (6-4) and hits (44-42).

The Bruins improved to 18-6-0 (9-2-0 on the road) when scoring first, 17-1-0 (9-0-0 on the road) when leading after one and 19-1-1 (12-0-1 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.

The Senators fell to 4-18-3 (3-10-1 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-10-2 (0-5-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 1-18-0 (0-9-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins continue their four game road trip (1-0-0) next Tuesday (Feb. 15th) at the New York Rangers before swinging through the New York Islanders next Thursday and returning to Ottawa next Saturday.

Boston returns home to host the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 21st before heading back out on the road in Seattle, San Jose and Los Angeles to close out the month of February. The B’s open the month of March in Anaheim before going to Vegas and Columbus.

By Nick Lanciani

Three years in live sports production (TV/radio), a degree in communication, a minor in sport management and yet I paint things in my spare time to distract myself from my unemployment. Anyway, I write stuff on Down the Frozen River, make/appear on podcasts, used to write stuff for Couch Guy Sports and still apply to jobs for a living.