By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Jeremy Swayman gave the Boston Bruins just what they needed Thursday night.
Swayman stopped 36 shots for his third shutout of the season as Boston defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 before 14,555 fans at Canada Life Centre.
“I thought we were a little too loose defensively in the first 40 (minutes) and I think (Swayman) had to be terrific, and he was terrific,” Boston coach Jim Montgomery said. “That might have been his best game of the year and he’s had a lot of good ones, just for his tracking, his control.
“He didn’t let any rebounds out. We gave up some significant opportunities that we usually don’t like to.”
Swayman’s shutout was the second in his past seven starts and eighth of his career. It was his 26th start this season.
The win also halted the league-leading Bruins’ only regulation two-game losing skid of the season.
“I think our whole team needed a reset and our goalies are a huge part of the success we’ve had all year,” Montgomery said.
Trent Frederic, Pavel Zacha and Tomas Nosek, into an empty net, scored for Boston (51-11-5), which was playing the third game of a five-game road trip.
The Jets (38-28-3) are 2-2-0 in their past four games and 4-9-2 in their last 15 contests. It was the fourth time they’ve been shut out this season.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 21 shots for Winnipeg, which is hanging on to the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. The Jets are four points ahead of the Nashville Predators, who have three games in hand.
“It’s really disappointing. We need these points,” Jets forward Adam Lowry said. “They’re so critical right now and we’re almost scoreboard watching every night right now.
“So, it would have been nice to see a few of those go in. I thought for the most part we played a really solid game and, obviously, you’re playing the best team in the league, they’re going to generate a lot of good chances.”
The Jets were 0-for-5 on the power play and Boston finished 0-for-3.
“It’s just our four outworking their five, making sure I saw pucks and clearing out rebounds,” Swayman said of Boston’s penalty kill. “They did a great job at that.”
Boston led 2-0 after the first period.
Frederic got the visitors on the scoresheet just 50 seconds into the game. Tyler Bertuzzi picked up a loose puck while skating around the back of Winnipeg’s net and sent it out front to Frederic, who scored his 16th goal of the season.
It drew cheers from many of the fans in the stands wearing Bruins jerseys.
Zacha made it 2-0 after getting the puck following a Winnipeg turnover in Boston’s end. He fired a shot high over Hellebuyck’s glove at 13:22.
Swayman stopped Kyle Connor’s close-in shot midway through the first as Winnipeg outshot Boston 13-7.
Connor also hit a post midway through the second. He finished with six shots and has gone eight games without a goal.
“We couldn’t bury our chances. We were right there,” Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon said. “We knew them, being the top team in the league, it was going to be a good test for us.”
Nosek scored into the empty net with six seconds remaining.
Jets head coach Rick Bowness announced after Thursday’s morning skate forward Sam Gagner will miss the remainder of the season because of hip surgery.
Gagner, 33, had surgery recently on one hip and will have another operation in two weeks on the other, Bowness said.
The 16-year veteran, from London, Ont., last played Feb. 28 and had eight goals and six assists in 48 games. He ends his first season in Winnipeg with a total of 1,015 NHL games for seven teams.
Winnipeg centre Pierre-Luc Dubois missed a fourth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. But star defenceman Josh Morrissey was on the ice after two games away with a lower-body injury.
Jets: Head out for a back-to-back road trip, starting Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators and Sunday night versus the St. Louis Blues.
Bruins: Play a back-to back set on the road, beginning Saturday afternoon against the Minnesota Wild and Sunday in Buffalo versus the Sabres.