Swayman aces first playoff test for Bruins with great performance in Game 3 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The biggest adjustment the Bruins made entering Game 3 against the Hurricanes was changing their starting goalie, and it proved to be the correct decision by head coach Bruce Cassidy.
After two decent-but-not-great performances from veteran goaltender Linus Ullmark in a pair of losses down in Carolina to begin the first round, the Bruins gave Jeremy Swayman his first career playoff start in Friday night's matchup at TD Garden.
He rose to the challenge.
The rookie netminder made 25 saves on 27 shots (.926 save percentage), including a couple key stops on the penalty kill. Swayman didn't give up many rebounds, he challenged shooters, and he showed great poise in net. His one mistake came on Jaccob Slavin's third-period goal, but the score was 4-1 prior to that tally.
Swayman's performance was a major reason why the Bruins earned a 4-2 win to trim their series deficit to 2-1.
"I thought he played great," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "He made some huge saves at timely moments of the game where it could have changed the outcome. He just seemed to be very composed. It's a high-pressure game. We knew the magnitude of the game and he came in prepared.
"But I think that's what we expected from him. He's had that all year. He has the drive and the will to be a great player for this team. I think he was excited for the opportunity. You have to give him a lot of credit. But you have to regroup, forget about this one, be proud of himself, but he has to do it again."
There was one sequence during the second period where the Hurricanes were all over the front of the net and the Bruins couldn't clear the zone. Swayman covered every inch of his crease to thwart Carolina and prevent it from scoring during an important moment of the game.
"It was a great team effort," Swayman said. "They came in a rush, that's their game. They get in front of the net and clean up rebounds. I wanted to make sure to seal the ice well and the upper part of the net as well, and do whatever I can to stop rebounds and end the play."
One of Swayman's best traits is his calmness in net. He does a tremendous job fighting through adversity and staying even-keeled, especially in clutch moments. That's the kind of mindset that you need as a goalie in the playoffs when the pressure increases significantly.
"That’s his demeanor and I think that won’t change,” Cassidy said of Swayman. “The farther we go along, some of that will get tested. For a young guy, these are the most important games he’s probably ever played, so we’ll see. But we knew that about him.
"Right up to the end, we weren't sure who would be our Game 1 starter. We just felt Ullmark had the better finish. (Swayman) worked on his game in between. You never know if you're going to get a shot. He got his opportunity and he was ready for it. I think it says what it always has, he’s consistent -- he’s a good pro, for a young guy, he’s a really good pro. He’ll get tested again Sunday, but he passed his first one."