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Recap: Bruins fall to Oilers at home, 4-3

On the night we paid tribute to Milt Schmidt, the Bruins cave in the third period.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Boston Bruins
Milt Schmidt’s tribute did little to stir the Bruins out of their slump.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Milt Schmidt: The Ultimate Bruin

The Bruins opened tonight’s ceremonies with a moving tribute to Milt Schmidt, a - nay, THE - Bruins legend who passed away this week at 98 years old. From a successful playing career, to coach, to GM, to ambassador - the man was the epitome of a professional and made a significant impact at every level in 81 years of involvement with the organization. Rather than a moment of silence for the Bruins legend, the Garden requested a moment of celebration - and the Garden did not dissapoint.

The Bruins will honor Schmidt the rest of the season with 15 painted behind both nets on the ice and a #15 on their chest. Watch the tribute here.

First Period

This started just... ugly. With their first possessions, the Bruins failed to gain the offensive zone, and on one of the first counter-breakouts for Connor McDavid’s line, the Wunderkind rushed the puck through the circle to the left of Tuukka Rask and chipped a flubby backhand “pass” through the space above the crease directly to Patrick Maroon, who escaped Brandon Carlo attention and buried it for his 12th goal and McDavid’s 30th assist on the season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien woke his boys up quick, and began some line magic shuffling, demoting Carlo for his lack of preparedness and working his matchups. The Bruins began their first of several offensive-zone parades, cycling the puck and sending a few point shots on net. Captain Zdeno Chara, not satisfied with less than 100 scalps, tried to remove Maroon’s head with a couple shots to his left ear. Chara clearly knew there needed to be some kind of wake-up call for this game.

On one of these strong cycles by the Bruins, Colin Miller unleashed a slapshot that snuck through Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, and barely got beyond his reach. A horrifying flashback to Marchand’s attempt in the New Jersey game, the puck did cross the goal line just enough to count.

With about 8:20 to go in the period, McDavid tries to outrun defensive wizard Patrice Bergeron, who manages to keep up with McDavid before reaching for the puck and crashing into Rask. All of the Garden faithful held their collective breath for a few seconds while Rask and McDavid untangled, unscathed.

With two minutes to go, things started to get a bit chippy; Anton Blidh gets a piece of Kris Russell in the offensive corner, and Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle took exception. The referees took exception to his exception and stopped any extracurricular, and the period fizzled with a couple failed dump-ins from both teams.

Second Period

For some reason, there’s not much to be said for this period. A penalty for each team, a goal for each team, and some mounting frustration from each team. Neither could enter the zone very effectively, and when they did, they lost possession pretty quickly.

On Bergie’s go-ahead goal, David Pastrnak took advantage of Milan Lucic covering on defense, and though Looch played him well, Pastrnak got off a clean centering pass to Patrice, who had just gained the zone, and with that kind of time and space...

Maroon’s 2nd goal was some garbage cleanup, with Tuukka struggling to find the rebound a bit. Edmonton barely sustained a cycle, and so far, both goals they’ve scored are the product of jitters - Carlo not being fully prepared on his first shift, and a sloppy defensive zone turnover shortly following Bergeron’s goal.

The Bruins were a bit better at controlling the puck and made a late push for a second goal in the period, to no avail.

Third Period

If the game started ugly, this third period was a room full of grayscale holiday sweaters. 14 seconds in, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the go-ahead goal to make the score 3-2.

Edmonton followed this goal with their first burst of attack on the Bruins since midway through the second, and the new pressure on Boston caused a turnover. Newly-minted Bruins killer Pat Maroon gets his third, and though the play was challenged as offsides, this counted, and he had his first hat trick in the NHL.

Eric Gryba made a nasty knee-on-knee hit on Pastrnak, followed by a penalty to former Bruin Benoit Pouliot, but Pasta was on for the ensuing power plays so looks like he’s generally okay.

Krejci tallied one just before the 5-on-3 expires, bringing the B’s to within one with another minute of PP time still remaining.

Unfortunately, that would do it. While the Bruins had several additional chances on the power play, and even carried momentum back to 5v5 once it ended, it was just not enough.

Observations

The Bruins got scored on early, and recovered quickly. It looked as though the team woke up after the first Edmonton goal and stayed awake through the entire first period and into the second. What happened?

Once again, despite ample opportunities and a dominant possession performance against Edmonton, the Bruins just couldn’t put enough pucks past Cam Talbot. This is easy to say from the top of the Garden, but late in the game, it looked like rather than closing on loose pucks with their bodies and controlling them, the Bruins were trying to make quick, cute plays and this caused the damning turnovers that led to the final Edmonton goal and several squandered opportunities in the final minutes. Edmonton didn’t even ATTEMPT a shot in the last ten minutes of the third (OK, fine, three minutes of PK hampers that ability).

END THIS STUPID OFFSIDES REVIEW. Linesmen were getting the calls right most (I SAID MOST) of the time and the challenge by Claude was a waste of a timeout we could’ve used after Krejci’s goal.