What we learned: Oilers barrel over Bruins
Raise your hand if, just a week ago, you had visions of a five-game Black-and-Gold win streak to end the Thanksgiving weekend.
Or that the Edmonton Oilers with the best player on the planet – that came within a game of playing for Lord Stanley in the Western Final last spring – would have four losses in their last five games into Sunday’s 5 p.m. start.
Connor McDavid, Milan Lucic and company mired at the bottom of the Western Conference with Arizona, and grinding their wheels to the end of a disastrous 1-3-0 road trip so far, while coughing up 19 goals.
Boston, on the other hand, gunning for five straight, coming off its biggest win of the year in Fridays 4-3 pasting of the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins before a national NBC audience.
After the four-game exile, Tuukka Rask back in net – with fewer total wins than Khudobin’s last four – vs. Cam Talbot. Khudobin on the pine, sporting a 7-0-2 mark.
The Bruins still without Brad Marchand – and Ryan Spooner back on sick leave re-aggravating a nagging groin injury.
“Well,” Bruce Cassidy said as his very first words postgame, “we lacked energy. Obviously, that was very visible to everyone.”
Here’s what we learned as the late-arriving TD Garden crowd, basking in Patriot glow, watched the home team blow two leads and end the win streak at four games in the 4-2 loss.
Rask holds serve on McDavid; B’s power play strikes
McDavid, a highlight reel possibility each shift, went solo on Rask at the 12-minute mark. Decision Rask, forcing the talented pivot into a no-shot opportunity.
At 13:24, the B’s went on the man-advantage and Torey Krug pulled a Bobby Orr-like dash from behind his net all the way to the Edmonton slot before dishing to a streaking David Pastrnak. Boston’s leading scorer in both goals (12) and points (20) put a dart top shelf on Ward for the 1-0 lead. Rask also assisting. The Oilers’ penalty kill at No. 29 in the NHL.
Rask “marooned” twice; Krejci to the rescue
At 9:50 of the second period Patrick Maroon launched a laser from the left faceoff circle that caught net before Rask flinched. Five minutes later Adam Larsson tipped it by Rask for his fifth of the season and a short-lived lead. The goal was originally credited to Lucic.
Actually, it was scored by Charlie McAvoy.
“I thought Charlie did a good job trying to box out a big body,” Cassidy said about the goal, “and it goes in off his foot.”
David Krejci tied it, assisted by Riley Nash seconds later at 15:31; Boston’s anemic ninth shot on net while Edmonton put 24 on Rask to that point.
Oilers pull away in final 20
“Look at McDavid’s speed and [Leon] Draisaitl through the neutral zone,” Cassidy said about Edmonton’s speed. “At times we did well against that. Other times, they were through there. Big bodies getting to the net we talked about. They were all in the lineup. Maroon, Lucic, Draisaitl, guys that will get there.”
At 2:07, Ryan Strome took a pass from Leon Draisaitl in the slot and scored on a perfect bullet past Rask to give Edmonton the lead.
Boston’s best bid with four minutes left on a Patrice Bergeron slot shot that handcuffed Talbot.
Draisaitl, with a new eight-year $68 million contract, delivered the dagger at 19:10 with the empty-netter; McDavid, a 100 million dollar man following his new deal, with two assists on the night.
And the streak was over.
“We’ve played well of late,” Cassidy said. “We started well Friday, just didn’t have it tonight.”
The Bruins will need it all Wednesday night.
“We have a good hockey team coming in here,” Cassidy said about the next opponent.
That would be Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning – lights out the best team in the NHL to this point.