PITTSBURGH — Before the breathless moments of Tuesday’s overtime win, the Bruins were holding their breaths at 5:42 of the third period.
Jeremy Swayman was flat on his face. Patrice Bergeron waved to the trainer. Linus Ullmark was coming back in.
Swayman’s left leg twisted underneath him after Bergeron, toppled by Jake Guentzel, collided with the netminder. Swayman left the ice with assistance, flexing his leg. As the team left the rink, Swayman wore ice on his left knee but was moving without the aid of crutches.
The Bruins were waiting for tests before stating the severity of Swayman’s injury. At the close of business Tuesday, it seemed highly unlikely Swayman would be able to start Thursday in Manhattan against the Rangers.
It would be up to Ullmark, who had quite a night. After posting a shutout Friday in Columbus, he was yanked Tuesday after allowing five goals on 24 shots, then returned after Swayman’s injury and stopped the final nine shots he saw.
“Hockey’s hockey,” Ullmark said. “It’s a very humbling league. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of situation develop the way it did develop. I thought Sway did a great job in there. In the end, we got a win.”
His concern level for his injured batterymate was low.
“He’s from Alaska,” Ullmark said. “I’m not too worried. Guy’s tough as nails.”
Lauko nets his first
This one counted for Jakub Lauko.
Lauko saw his would-be first career goal called back against the Coyotes last month, after a goaltender interference call on Nick Foligno.
On Tuesday, the Czech rookie cashed a pretty feed from Foligno, who had barreled through a Penguins forechecker, wheeled up the right wing, and threaded the needle to Lauko at 13:20 of the first period.
“My first look was to the referee,” Lauko said. “When he said it was OK — there was a little hesitation that they’d challenge it.”
Amid the celebration, Foligno scooted to the corner to grab the puck for his 22-year-old linemate.
“You better,” Lauko joked. “He took the first goal off me, against Arizona. No, no, no. He’s a really good guy. I call him Uncle Nick. He’s taking care of advising me, same with Nosy [Tomas Nosek].
That puck, Lauko said, will go to a special friend.
Two years ago, he made a promise to his 20-year-old teammate and friend, Ondrej Buchtela, who was dying of a rare form of cancer.
Buchtela, a defenseman for Piráti Chomutov in the Czech Extraliga, died of heart cancer on July 24, 2020.
Lauko acknowledged his own parents will be disappointed to not have the souvenir, but he promised to give the puck to Buchtela’s mother.
“When I knew I was going to play in the NHL, she was the first one I called actually,” Lauko said. “It’s emotional for me.”
Marchand not looking back
Tuesday was the first meeting of Brad Marchand and Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry since last season’s dust-up that got Marchand a six-game suspension, the longest of his 14-year career.
Last Feb. 8 at TD Garden, Marchand blew his stack when Jarry taunted him in the final moments of a 4-2 loss.
After Jarry robbed him during a net-front scramble, Marchand reacted to Jarry’s words by throwing a gloved jab at the netminder’s head and, while being held back by an official, swiped the goalie’s mask with his stick.
In a hearing with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Marchand testified that Jarry said, “How about that [expletive] save?” Bettman upheld the six-game ban, reasoning that Marchand’s rap sheet was too long to allow such nonsense.
Marchand is believed to be the most-suspended player in NHL history, with eight suspensions totaling 28 lost games, and five fines. He has forfeited more than $1.4 million in salary.
His most recent suspension was far from his mind Tuesday morning.
“It was a reaction to a situation,” Marchand said. “I don’t think about him or the situation. It is what it is. I got an extremely hefty punishment for a very soft hit. If anything, he got the last laugh.”
Marchand is always in the spotlight, but ESPN took it to a new level with its “Star Watch” camera that followed him and Sidney Crosby around the whole game. Before puck drop, Marchand wasn’t aware he would be in ESPN’s crosshairs.
“Oh, I didn’t know that,” he said. “There’s cameras in every game. It doesn’t change anything. Maybe I’ve got to make sure I play clean tonight. Not hiding tonight.”
Ullmark draws another start
Ullmark, who drew his seventh start in 10 games, earned his league-high seventh win of the season . . . David Krejci participated in the morning skate but missed his second game in a row with an upper-body injury. Krejci was high-sticked by Detroit’s Michael Rasmussen Thursday . . . Craig Smith is dealing with an upper-body injury, Montgomery said, and is considered day to day. He did not participate in the morning skate. Lauko drew in on the fourth line, A.J. Greer moving up to ride with Charlie Coyle (center) and Trent Frederic (left wing) . . . The Penguins were without Letang, their No. 1 defenseman, who was ill.
Stralman gets the nod again
Anton Stralman got the call over Jakub Zboril and Mike Reilly for the second game in a row. From that group of third-pair defensemen, Montgomery wants to see “managing the game, being able to end plays, especially defensively, and being able to help our transition game.” . . . Connor Clifton and Forbort have become a solid second defense pair for the Bruins, even though they’re best slotted as a third (and will likely slide in usage once Charlie McAvoy returns). That will make it harder for Zboril, Reilly, and Stralman to see minutes. “You take [Clifton’s] physicality, plus the fact he’s moving pucks so well right now, it’s hard to even think of him out of our lineup,” Montgomery said. Forbort, he added, “has been unreal. Since the first day of camp, he’s probably been our most consistent and best defenseman day-in, day-out.”