In a matter of two nights at the Garden, the Bruins discovered a few encouraging things about themselves.
They not only have enough skill to battle with the best of the East Division, they can outwork the best of them, too.
And, oh, they have one heck of a goaltending prospect whose time may be sooner than we all thought.
After a dominant 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday, the B’s gritted their teeth through a 3-0 victory on Friday. The B’s got goals from two of their resident stars, David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall, and then new fourth-liner Curtis Lazar finished off the Isles with an empty-netter, clinching the victory.
Don Sweeney’s trade-deadline day is shaping up as a doozy of a haul. With Mike Reilly’s slick assist on Pastrnak’s goal, all three acquisitions had a point in each goal.
“It means a lot,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “That’s Donny. He’s working the phones. It starts earlier than the deadline. You saw a couple of deals that get the wheels in motion. Who’s selling? What are we willing to give up? Those are all conversations he had with Cam (Neely). Obviously the pro scouts get involved. Here’s a guy who fits that may be underutilized somewhere. Whatever the case may be. And it’s up to Donny to pull the trigger. It’s not easy. It’s not automatic.”
Meanwhile, Jeremy Swayman, out of the University of Maine, pitched his first NHL shutout, making 25 saves, several of them on Grade-A chances.
“He’s very composed,” said Cassidy. “He does have some of that Tuukka (Rask) in him, that technically sound, composed guy that never looks out of control. Good to see. Good for him. He’s a good kid that works hard. Both our young goalies have stood up, so good for those guys.”
As expected, the Islanders came at the Bruins with a much better effort than they did on Thursday night, requiring Swayman to be on his game. And he was.
Swayman stopped an early clean break by Michael Dal Colle and later made a lunging body save on Anthony Beauvillier on an Islanders power play. Swayman stopped all 10 Islanders shots in the period.
But just when it looked like the B’s might be content to go into the first intermission deadlocked at 0-0, they struck.
With the seconds ticking off the clock, Reilly and Patrice Bergeron pulled off a nice give-and-go at the left point. Reilly deftly redirected a low-to-high pass to Bergeron and then skated ahead. He took the return feed from Bergeron and, from the left corner, threaded the needle through the slot for Pastrnak, who buried his shot over Ilya Sorokin’s shoulder with just 2.4 seconds left on the clock.
Pastrnak explained that pronouncing Reilly’s nickname — the oh-so-clever “Riles” — has been hard for him to pronounce.
“I wasn’t even finished pronouncing his nickname and the puck was on my tape,” said Pastrnak.
The tally snapped a seven-game goal-less streak for Pastrnak.
“I think I played pretty good the last couple of games. I was getting chances,” said Pastrnak. “Obviously the puck wouldn’t go in for me. But honestly the last couple of games, the chances were there. Obviously it’s frustrating sometimes when you don’t score for many games. I just stuck with it and showed up to the rink every single morning and work your butt off to get ready for the next game and try not to let the frustration get in your head too much.”
After that last-minute goal to end the first, the B’s jabbed the Islanders with a first-minute goal to kick off the second period. Hall and David Krejci pulled off a long-distance give-and-go along the offensive blue line, with Hall dishing to Krejci on the right wing. Hall headed to the net and Krejci delivered a perfect pass for Hall to redirect home from the slot just 47 seconds into the period.
Hall’s second goal in as many games made it 2-0, and despite chances at both ends, that’s the way it stayed for the rest of the period.
From there, Swayman shut the door.
“First and foremost, the win was the most important part of tonight’s game,” said Swayman. “The shutout was the cherry on top.”