Bruins’ PK delivers signature performance in gutsy shootout win


“The heart and soul of our team came through at a huge moment for us.”

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (1) celebrates with right wing David Pastrnak (88) and defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) after the team's shootout win against the Washington Capitals in an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 30 2024, in Washington.
Jeremy Swayman and the Bruins did enough to come away with a win on Saturday. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

WASHINGTON — The odds weren’t exactly in the Bruins’ favor during overtime on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.

Granted, that can be a sweeping declaration for a Bruins team saddled with 15 losses beyond regulation so far in 2023-24.

But the circumstances were particularly dire for Boston as Charlie Coyle, Andrew Peeke, and Brandon Carlo skated back on the ice and braced for the incoming onslaught.

The Washington Capitals are a team built to carve up opponents with the extra ice available in overtime — especially with poised playmakers and potent snipers like Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, and T.J. Oshie in place.

But with Hampus Lindholm mired in the penalty box for four minutes, the Capitals had an extra skater on hand to try and bury the Bruins following the B’s blueliner’s double-minor penalty.

Lindholm — who saved a goal in his own right earlier in the contest with a clutch stick save behind Jeremy Swayman — could only sit and watch from the sin bin as Boston’s PK tried to stem the tide.

But in a season where little has seemingly gone right for the Bruins in the extra frame, Boston’s shorthanded unit picked a good time to string together its best performance of the year.

“I think we really came together in the end. That was a tough minor penalty,” Lindholm noted. “Seeing the guys putting their body on the line like that — we’re going to need that down the stretch.”

Despite holding a 4-on-3 edge for four minutes in overtime, the Capitals were unable to deliver a knockout punch against Boston — with Boston’s stingy PK performance against an extra skater lifting the visitors to an eventual 3-2 shootout win in Washington D.C.

Washington did attempt eight shots on net during those four minutes, with four of those blocked by four different shorthanded skaters in Brad Marchand, Carlo, Peeke, and Charlie McAvoy.

“I think it’s just our three working harder than their four. … At the end of the day, our penalty kill came up with the win,” Swayman said after Boston’s victory. “So that’s really exciting and a big win for us moving forward.”

With one of Boston’s top penalty killers in Lindholm stuck in the box, Jim Montgomery made the most of the team’s deadline pickup in Peeke — who stepped up with 2:48 of ice time in that five-minute overtime stretch.

Peeke was one of four Bruins to log at least 2:30 of ice time during overtime on Saturday, with Carlo leading the way with 3:24 of reps.

Along with his block against Ovechkin, Carlo cleared two pucks down the other end of the sheet — allowing Boston to replace its weary skaters and keep its legs fresh as the seconds ticked off the clock.

“C-Mac makes a big block in regulation, Brandon — countless blocks every night and that’s so special for our team moving forward,” Swayman noted. “So this win definitely goes to my D corps blocking shots. … When you see guys blocking shots, forward and defense — it’s a huge accomplishment.

“And when these guys are doing that, game after game, wave after wave, it’s something that shouldn’t be unnoticed. And I know I try to give them credit during the game but I’ll be giving them some hugs after this interview.”

Unable to land the dagger in overtime, the Capitals then struggled to keep the Bruins off the board in the subsequent shootout.

After trading tallies through the initial four rounds, Kevin Shattenkirk fired a puck past Charlie Lindgren to put Boston back ahead — with Swayman turning aside Connor McMichael’s final attempt to close out the victory.

Three-on-three overtime periods and shootouts may not exactly translate over to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But for a Bruins team bracing for plenty of adversity in the weeks ahead, Saturday’s gutsy performance should offer validation that Boston can withstand those inevitable trials sitting on the horizon.

“It’s enormous,” Shattenkirk said of Boston’s PK. “I mean, obviously the key moment in the game for us. You know the other team’s gonna get chances. You need your goalie to make a big save or two, which he did. And after that, we’re blocking shots.

“We’re getting pucks down the ice and the fact that we were able to roll over and get fresh bodies out there — it was just textbook. So I think you have to give a ton of credit to those guys. The heart and soul of our team came through at a huge moment for us.”

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