BOSTON — When Bruce Cassidy said that there will be a goalie competition this year, the Bruins’ coach was not kidding.

Cassidy said he’ll go right back with his opening-night starter Jeremy Swayman for Wednesday’s road opener in Philadelphia. No, he’s not putting Linus Ullmark in mothballs. The veteran newcomer will make his official Bruins debut in his old home rink in Buffalo on Friday. But Swayman, simply, played well enough in the opener (27 saves on 28 shots) to earn the next start.

“For those two games, they were each going to play a game. We liked Sway’s game in the opener against Dallas on Saturday, so we’ll give him the net again,” said Cassidy on Tuesday. “It wasn’t necessarily that Ullmark’s absolutely going to play in Buffalo. It could have worked out that way, but that’s the way we’re going and he’s going to get Buffalo. He knows them better than anybody. And they probably know him better than anybody, so there’s obviously a flip side to both of those, so hopefully he’s ready to go.”

Ullmark did not have the greatest preseason and Swayman clearly beat him out for the opening-night start. He lost the two full games he played, both in extra time. In the first one, his own puck-handling gaffe led to the overtime winner for the Rangers while the skaters’ mistakes led to a two-on-one goal against Washington in the preseason finale.

The fact that Swayman has played well has allowed the Bruins to be patient with Ullmark, whose season ended early last year with a lower body injury. But when you sign a guy to a four-year, $20 million contract, you want to see some bang for the buck at some point.

Cassidy said that he has seen improvement in Ullmark’s play in practice.

“Better,” said Cassidy when asked about Ullmark’s practice performance. “A little less active, probably similar to how he plays, top of the crease.

“Listen, you see a lot of good pucks in practice so it can be tough on goalies. You’ve seen a lot of power plays down there with (Patrice Bergeron’s) group and they can rip it. But he looks like he’s battling there and he’s in a good place in the locker room, etc. I’m sure he wants the net, disappointed he didn’t get the start (in the opener), but as we said, it’s a competition. So when you get your chance, do what you need to stay in the net so that we don’t take you out. And that’s kind of the message to both of them.”

Right now, practice is all the coaching staff has to go on in gauging Ullmark’s readiness. By the time he plays Friday, he will have gone 16 days since his last start against Washington in the preseason, thanks to the unusually sparse early season schedule.

JETS: Captain Blake Wheeler will miss at least four games while sidelined for COVID-19.

The Jets said Wheeler was symptomatic after testing positive for the virus.

BLUES: Pavel Buchnevich was suspended two games for head-butting Arizona Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse in Monday night’s game.

ISLANDERS: Former New York Islanders winger Mike Bossy, who helped the team win four straight Stanley Cups, disclosed he’s been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Bossy, a Montreal native, revealed the news in a letter to TVA Sports, the French-language network where he works as a hockey analyst. He will take leave from his job while undergoing treatment.

TUESDAY’S GAMES

SABRES 5, CANUCKS 2: Jeff Skinner and Tage Thompson scored 23 seconds apart in the third period and host Buffalo rallied to beat Vancouver.

Kyle Okposo and Zemgus Girgensons each added a goal and an assist, and Craig Anderson made 32 saves. After finishing in last place for the fourth time in eight seasons, the Sabres are 3-0 for the first time since 2008 and the fifth time in franchise history.

Bo Horvat and Justin Dowling scored for the Canucks in their second straight loss.

CAPITALS 6, AVALANCHE 3: Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first two goals of the season, Alex Ovechkin added the 734th of his NHL career into an empty net and Washington beat visiting Colorado.

The Capitals spoiled Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon’s first game of the season after he missed the past week in NHL COVID protocol. MacKinnon, fellow top-line forward Mikko Rantanen and Norris Trophy finalist Cale Makar were each on the ice for four goals against.

STARS 2, PENGUINS 1: Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov scored in a shootout to lift Dallas Stato a win at Pittsburgh.

Pavelski and Radulov both beat Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry with backhands to help Dallas end a season-opening four-game trip on a high note.

SHARKS 5, CANADIENS 0: Rookie Jonathan Dahlen scored his first two goals in his second career game, and San Jose won at Montreal.

PANTHERS 4, LIGHTNING 1: Aleksander Barkov scored the go-ahead goal 3:40 into the third period and visiting Florida won its third straight.

Barkov slammed a loose puck in the crease past Andrei Vasilevskiy for his second of the season. It came 1:04 after the Lightning tied it 1-all on Brayden Point’s goal.

DEVILS 4, KRAKEN 2: Rookie Dawson Mercer and Damon Severson scored first-period goals and Jonathan Bernier made 27 saves, leading New Jersey over visiting Seattle.

RED WINGS 4, BLUE JACKETS 1: Lucas Raymond made his first NHL goal a big one for host Detroit, breaking a scoreless tie at 6:38 of the third period on the way to a win.

The 19-year-old Raymond, from Gothenburg, Sweden, was picked fourth overall by the Red Wings in the 2020 draft. He also assisted on Tyler Bertuzzi’s fifth goal of the season just more than two minutes after beating goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who stopped Detroit’s first 33 shots on net.

PREDATORS 2, KINGS 1: Matt Duchene and Tanner Jeannot scored in the third period to give Nashville a win at home.

Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 25 saves for Nashville, and Anze Kopitar had the lone goal and Calvin Petersen made 29 saves for Los Angeles.

ISLANDERS 4, BLACKHAWKS 1: Ilya Sorokin made 39 saves and Oliver Wahlstrom scored twice in the third period, helping visiting New York win its first after two losses to open the season.


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