What we learned: Connor McDavid strikes again
The Boston Bruins finally got some of their legs back under them on the second stop of their four-game Canadian road trip.
Following a disappointing loss the previous evening in Calgary, the Bruins bounced back with a stronger performance Thursday night in Edmonton but eventually fell to the Oilers in overtime, 3-2.
In an extremely physical battle, Boston held a 29-22 shot advantage and created numerous scoring chances, but didn’t do enough to topple Edmonton in the second — and already final — regular season meeting between the two sides. They did, however, pick up a hard-fought point in the effort.
Here is what we learned from the Oilers’ overtime victory over the Bruins in western Canada.
Connor McDavid strikes again
Awesome play from Connor McDavid to set up Leon Draisaitl in OT pic.twitter.com/FB6GG0rixL
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) October 19, 2018
When trying to stop the Oilers, it all starts with defending the young, lightning-fast, feather-haired, ultra-talented two-time scoring champion that is Connor McDavid.
The 21-year-old Canadian sensation entered the night having recorded a point on nine of Edmonton’s first ten goals of the season; Boston, however, did an admirable job of containing his speed and limiting his scoring chances.
Despite an early two-on-one rush during his first shift, McDavid was relatively quiet and wasn’t the walking – or skating – highlight reel that we are so accustomed to seeing; that is, until the third period and overtime rolled around.
McDavid, who finished with a plus-one rating, gave the Oilers a brief 2-1 lead with 12:27 left in the third after delivering a beautiful ricochet pass off the end boards to assist Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
His night wasn’t over there. Just 24 seconds into the overtime period, McDavid intercepted a lazy pass from Brad Marchand, skated around a defender and connected with Leon Draisaitl to secure the full two points for Edmonton.
McDavid’s late surge demonstrated that no matter how much a player of that caliber is contained, they can strike at a moment’s notice — and that is exactly what happened to the Bruins on Thursday night.
Zdeno Chara joins 900-game club
The Bruins’ captain joined elite company when he dawned the Black and Gold Friday night.
As the opening puck dropped at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Chara officially recorded his 900th game as a member of the Boston Bruins — a feat that only six other players in Bruins history have achieved.
With his milestone, Chara joined Ray Bourque, John Bucyk, Don Sweeney, Wayne Cashman and current teammate Patrice Bergeron as the only Boston players to have reached this milestone – something that the 6-foot-9 defenseman was extremely thankful for.
“Definitely appreciate it. It’s an honor and privilege,” Chara told reporters before taking the ice Thursday night. “It’s been obviously quite some time, but I have been very proud of being part of this organization and very thankful to have owners like we have. They make it very convenient for me and my family to stay in this organization, and Boston, for as long as we have.”
Jaroslav Halak tallies another solid performance
The Bruins picked up Jaroslav Halak this offseason in free agency in hopes of filling the backup goaltender vacancy created by Anton Khudobin’s departure. Halak, however, has turned out to be much more than that for Boston this season.
Through the Bruins’ first seven games, Halak and Tuukka Rask have worked in tandem as co-starters and have traded off almost every other game between the pipes.
In his first three appearances, Halak has been impressive, boasting a 2-0-0 record and stopping 73 of the 76 shots he has faced. That trend continued Thursday night against the Oilers, despite the loss.
The Slovak stood tall in net, and made a plethora of big stops at key moments to keep the Bruins in the game.
Despite surrendering three goals — none of which were completely his fault — Halak looked comfortable and confident and turned away several quality scoring chances. Of his 19 saves, none were more impressive than his highway robbery of McDavid with 7:27 left in the third period.
With the score deadlocked at two, McDavid picked up the puck in the neutral zone, sped by both Chara and Brandon Carlo and swept across the front of the Boston net. Halak, at full extension, managed to make a fantastic pad save to keep the score tied.
As the season progresses, look forward to seeing more Halak in net for the Bruins — especially if Rask continues to falter.