This is the Jeremy Swayman the Bruins have been waiting for

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Sending Jeremy Swayman down to Providence if or when Tuukka Rask returns was becoming an easy decision, right? Think again.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney assessed the play of both Swayman and Linus Ullmark as “OK” earlier this week. He said Swayman was going through “some growing pains.” And he said Rask is “likely to be a part of our group” if he wants to return.

Add in the fact that Ullmark’s contract is virtually unmovable and Swayman doesn’t have to go through waivers, and it wasn’t hard to read between the lines and conclude that a trip down to Providence could be in Swayman’s future.

But then Thursday night came, and Swayman showed everyone something we haven’t seen much of this year: the outstanding, game-stealing Swayman we saw for 10 games last season. The rookie netminder made a career-high 42 saves and earned Boston’s first shutout of the season as the Bruins beat the Nashville Predators 2-0.

Not only was it the Bruins’ first shutout, but it was really their first win you could argue was “stolen” by their goalie. True, the Bruins did lead by two goals for the last 39-plus minutes. And true, they did keep a lot of those Nashville shots to the outside.

But the Predators still broke through enough to mount legitimate challenges on Swayman, and one goal at any point in those last two periods could have changed the game.

Swayman made 30 of his 42 saves in the final two periods, including 16 in the third. His best moment came on the Predators’ lone power play of the night midway through the third. Nashville’s sixth-ranked man advantage came out guns blazing and put five shots on Swayman during the two minutes, but he turned all of them aside, including a couple slap shots from the circles and a redirect from right on top of the crease.

Natural Stat Trick credits Swayman with 2.64 goals saved above expected and eight high-danger saves on the night. Basically, an average performance likely would have meant the Bruins losing or going to overtime. For a B's team that has seen its two goalies rank in the bottom half of the NHL in both of those categories, this kind of robbery was a welcome sight.

These are the kinds of performances any team that’s going to make any sort of run needs to get throughout the course of the season. The Bruins getting it this week was particularly crucial given that goals have been even harder to come by with Brad Marchand suspended. Add in Jakub Zboril getting injured early in the second period and not returning, and this was the perfect game for a goaltending pick-me-up.

One great game doesn’t necessarily mean Swayman is no longer in danger of being sent to the AHL in a month or two. But it was a reminder that this is what he’s capable of, and that sending him down if he puts together more games like this would be very difficult to do.