The so-called largest arena in the world shook like an empty barrel struck by lightning, ardent Blueshirt fans erupted and a tiny bit of normalcy was restored to a city that, like thousands of others around the world, is waiting for a pandemic to end and for life to return to simple pleasures.
“Nice textbook, right?” said Swayman, not happy with the outcome but still able to appreciate being part of a boffo evening of entertainment. “It was awesome. A huge rivalry. You know, my dad grew up in Brooklyn. So it was kind of cool to be in the backyard, knowing he was here when he was younger, so definitely sentimental for me “But going out with one point is not satisfying. I can’t wait to come back and get two.”
The Bruins, who led for most of the night, lost only the third time this season (18-1-2) as they carried a lead into the final period of regulation.
Blocked by Swayman for the first two periods, Rangers eventually equalized 1-1, with Filip Chytil’s fifth goal of the season 6:45 into the third.
Chytil, with room to operate on the right wing, moved closer to the near circle and broke a wrist that Swayman initially stopped. But when the puck slipped past the kneeling Swayman, Chytil rushed for the easy forehand pot into an open right side. All even at 1.
“I saw it,” Swayman noted. “It was leaking. I obviously want to get that save back. I saw the output. I think it was a bit of a broken game, and yeah, it just leaked.
Swayman was in goal Saturday for a 2-0 shutout at Ottawa. Chytil’s goal ended a 133:52 shutout streak for Swayman dating back to the second period last Tuesday night when he gave up Sidney Crosby’s 499th career goal.
Charlie Coyle opened the scoring with his 11th of the season, the Bruins jumping on an error by Barclay Goodrow, who mistakenly returned the puck to his zone from the defensive blue line. A cerebral hiccup. Seconds later, Coyle converted the giveaway, aided by teammate Craig Smith. Bruins, 1-0, at 3:39 of the first.
The entertainment value built throughout the third period and extra time, following Chytil’s equaliser, particularly when stellar Rangers keeper Igor Shesterkin was forced out with 40.5 seconds left in the 3 against 3 OT. Earlier, with 2:12 left in overtime, Shesterkin was flat in the slot when Smith fired the puck into the net. There was no goal and Smith was sent off for interference with a goalie.
It was that scrimmage that led the league’s off-ice concussion spotter to order Shesterkin to the locker room with 40.5 to go. He was furious, slamming his big goalie paddle against the boards and glass as he walked out, the Blueshirt net entrusted to partner Alexandar Georgiev.
“I saw it,” Swayman said. “Obviously he was emotional about it. Not happy, but I wouldn’t let that take me away from the game. I just saw him and moved on.
The Bruins didn’t land a shot over the final 40.5, setting the stage for the shootout. It also set the stage for Shesterkin to return from concussion protocol, only adding to the drama when the Russian-born goaltender burst onto the ice, Willis Reed-style.
Jake DeBrusk, the first shooter, quickly ran and nailed a short wrist to the top right corner on Shesterkin. Mika Zibanejad responded immediately for Rangers. After David Pastrnak was turned down, Artemi Panarin beat Swayman for the 2-1 lead. The game on his stick, Coyle replied, setting the stage for the extended shootout that saw Shesterkin outplay Erik Haula, Taylor Hall, Charlie McAvoy, Trent Frederic, Nick Foligno and Smith, before Miller ended it all.
“I don’t mind,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who was asked after the game what he thought of the shootout in general. “We’re trying to sell the game, and if the feedback from the fans is good, which I think, then I’m okay with that. I don’t believe in overtime all night, and 3v3 is exciting and rules a lot of matches. I think the format worked well.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at [email protected]