Black and Gold miss key opportunity
Pick the Bruins’ eyebrow-raising team stat that stood out the most entering Monday’s night encounter with Peter Chiarelli’s up-and-coming Edmonton Oilers. The former Bruins’ GM was named President and General Manager of the Oilers immediately after the Black and Gold severed ties last spring.
How about 3-1-1 in Boston’s last four games? Or 7-1-2 in their last 10?
Maybe the Bruins impressive road record of 10-2-2. Or their home record of 6-7-1?
What’s that you say? December 14 and a team that expects to play into late April and beyond is below .500 at home? At 2-7-1 three weeks ago, it seemed a .500 home tally might not come until next season.
It also seemed a win and the two points would be in the bag against the team with the lowest record in the NHL 10 days ago. But the Oilers were in the middle of a pretty good team stat themselves, reeling off five straight wins at home; the first a shootout affair over Boston December 2. The last an impressive 7-5 empty-the-holster affair over the Rangers Friday night.
With a 13-0-2 mark in their last 15 against the Oilers, however, and the league’s best power play, Boston was primed to get the .500 stat over with and add some space therein with eight of their next ten at TD Garden.
“Let’s not look too far ahead, let’s not look behind,” Claude Julien said after morning practice. “We started them on that five-game winning streak. We’re hoping to end it.”
At 8:29, Jordan Eberle put a dent in Julien’s hope when he put a top-shelf shot past Jonas Gustavsson, spelling Tuukka Rask in his first start since a week back when he dropped a 3-2 decision to Nashville.
At 6:02, Zdeno Chara lost an edge behind Gustavsson, Eberle picked up the errant puck and centered it to a streaking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who put it past Gustavsson for the two-goal lead.
At 12-11 shots on net after one period in favor of the visitors, the Bruins dominated period two, 17-3. And the Bruins were rewarded at 13:39 when Matt Beleskey played with a slow roller to Talbot’s left, the puck finding its way barely over the line — and breathing some life into the Garden for the final 20 minutes. Boston stood at 2-6-0 when trailing after two — Edmonton a perfect 5-0-0 when leading.
On Boston’s 46th shot on goal, Brad Marchand launched a 20-foot blazer past Talbot at 15:22; Patrice Bergeron and Landon Ferraro assisting.
Into overtime at 2-2 the game went. And the Bruins never touched the puck as the skilled Oilers put Boston’s .500 bid on hold until Wednesday against Pittsburgh when Andrej Sekera, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins controlled the play for 41 seconds until Sekera beat Gustavsson.
“Our top players had just played the last three minutes,” Julien said about having to put Landon Ferraro, Ryan Spooner and Torey Krug out for the first shift in overtime. “I was hoping to at least get a shift out of those guys and come back with our players, but we didn’t handle that very well.
“I thought we played well enough to win the game. Unfortunately, some of those nights don’t always go your way, so we come out with one when we should have come out with two.”
His team also came out at 6-7-2 at TD Garden, while Edmonton won a game in Boston for the first time since November 7, 1996, despite being outshot by a whopping 49-24.
“It’s something we’ve talked a lot about, improving our home record,” Bergeron said. “Tonight was a great opportunity for us to do that and we didn’t come out with the win. So we definitely have to be better.”
“You know you want to be a good team at home,” Marchand said about the lost opportunity. “You have to be able to be a dominating presence, and we haven’t been that so far this year. It would have been nice to get back [to .500] tonight but at least we got a point, and we’ll work on it next game.”