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RECAP: Bruins start sharp, but fade quickly and fall to Edmonton, 4-1

The final 40 minutes were pretty, pretty... bad.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Boston Bruins Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In celebration of Willie O’Ree and the skills programs he’s provided to youth players for years, he joined Zdeno Chara and Connor McDavid at center ice for the ceremonial puck drop on today’s game.

Could he bring luck to the Bruins? (tl;dr: nope.)

First Period

As usual, the Garden faithful were a little slow to get into the spirit of the occasion. It was quiet enough to start that I think I could hear Dave Tippett barking instructions from the rafters.

A heavy hit by David Pastrnak on Oscar Klefbom got under the Oilers’ skin a bit, and Leon Draisaitl tried to give it back, but ended up elbowing Torey Krug up high. Fortunately not worse for wear, Krug fed Pasta off the ensuing faceoff and he snapped a low shot that Kris Russell deflected top-shelf over Oilers goalie Mike Smith.

The Bruins were in general control throughout the game, though were also a little too content to let Edmonton cycle in the offensive zone among the other four players on the ice besides Connor McDavid, and essentially enclose him with defense. On subsequent shifts, though, the defense was more attentive to the boards and Patrice Bergeron managed to keep passing lanes to McDavid well covered.

A second power play for Boston yielded nada. Edmonton led in shots after the first, 9 to 6, and had the edge in possession stats - but, probably because the Bruins kept them cycling in their own end.

Second Period

Started off well enough, but Sean Kuraly wasted a strong shift by taking a tripping penalty. Edmonton couldn’t get out of their own zone cleanly but managed to set up on offense. Charlie McAvoy took a high shot to the face while on the kill, but fortunately looked alright.

Towards the mid-way point, Jake DeBrusk assisted on a nice Edmonton goal by flubbing a pass.

Chara got called for a pretty weak holding penalty, which looked more like Oilers forward Nygard spinning himself out, but the B’s got over it and killed the penalty.

With less than ten seconds left, Darnell Nurse caught Halak napping and scored a softie to give Edmonton the lead going to the second intermission. SUPER WEAK.

Third Period

By pouring several shots on Smith to start things off, Boston must have felt invincible, so naturally McDavid scores like five seconds later. Not great.

Boston spent the rest of the frame pushing forward, trying to get their chances back, while Edmonton was able to take their time and be more deliberate. It took at least ten more minutes of play before the B’s were able to generate higher-quality scoring chances again, but by then it was too late. With Halak pulled around the three-minutes-left mark, the Bruins still saw pucks bouncing over or slipping under their sticks. The closest chance was an extra-pass play by Pastrnak to Debrusk at Smith’s opposite post, but they couldn’t bury anything.

Game Notes

  • Kuraly shed a semi-soft first period by playing stronger through the second and third. Anders Bjork also had a strong shift in the second, but he and his linemates (Kuraly and Heinen) didn’t factor on the scoresheet at all.
  • DeBrusk got effectively benched after his turnover... and that was on his first shift of the second. He played one more shift in the second.
  • The matinee curse is far from lifted. Halak was sharp in the first to keep the Bruins ahead but was real dull in the second. Boston let their frustration get in the way of solid play for much of the second and third.