All season long, the Boston Bruins have been a tremendous team on home ice. Entering their game at TD Garden against the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night (March 9), they won 26 of their 31 games at home, with only two regulation losses. They suffered their third against the Oilers and it was done in a fashion that any team has yet to do this season to Boston.
Boston took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission and was 33-0-3 this season when scoring first. They were 35-0-2 when leading after two periods and had not suffered a home regulation loss when leading entering the third period since November of 2021 against the same Oilers. Both of those went out the window as Boston could not hold onto a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes and lost 3-2 to Edmonton on a pair of third-period goals from the visitors, including the winner from Darnell Nurse with 4:49 remaining to break a 2-2 when his wrist shot from the point went through a screen and beat Jeremy Swayman.
Here are three takeaways from a game that the 2022-23 Bruins don’t generally lose, a game with a two-goal lead and that snapped their 10-game winning streak.
Bruins Take Advantage of Skinner’s First-Period Gifts
It was not the greatest opening four minutes for the Bruins. Edmonton came out flying and pinned the Black and Gold in their own zone. Despite the Oilers not getting many high-danger scoring chances, they had Boston on their heels from the opening shift between the team’s top lines. However, when the Bruins were given chances, they took advantage and both were thanks to Stuart Skinner.
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Brad Marchand collected a dump-in into the Oilers’ zone and took a harmless wrist shot from the left circle that beat Skinner between his arm and body on their first of the game for a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, the Bruins doubled their lead, thanks again to Skinner. He had the puck taken away from him behind the net and David Krejci was able to send a pass to David Pastrnak and from one knee, he beat Skinner along the ice with 0.3 seconds left in the period. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Skinner stopped the final 18 shots he faced in the final two periods to allow his team a chance to rally.
Bruins Frustrate Connor McDavid
It was clear coming into the game that the top priority of the Bruins was to try and stop the NHL’s leading goal scorer Connor McDavid as best they could. It was a full team effort, but they ended up frustrating the favorite to take home multiple NHL Awards this summer.
It was clear what the Bruins’ plan was as they did not let him get going downhill in the offensive zone, they had a forward always shadowing him and they took away the passing lanes. McDavid entered the game with 27 points in his last 11 games, which included two goals in a 3-2 Boston win on Feb. 27 in Edmonton. McDavid finished with one shot on the net in the entire game.
Overall, it was not just on McDavid, but it was the Bruins’ effort as a team and as a whole as they had layers of bodies at the blueline to not allow Edmonton easy zone entries and they were good for the most part all night with their zone exits. Unfortunately, mistakes cost the Bruins in the final two periods.
Bruins’ Rare Mistakes Prove Costly
For as good of a job they did with McDavid 5-on-5, it was not that all great with two unforced turnovers by the Bruins that lead to two Edmonton goals. Both turnovers were committed by veterans who generally don’t make them.
Matt Grzelcyk returned to the lineup after missing the 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on March 4 after being the odd man out of the seven-man rotation. Against Edmonton with the Black and Gold holding a 2-0 lead, he committed a turnover at the offensive blueline that led to a 4-on-1 break. Boston had offensive zone pressure and Grzelcyk stopped and turned with the puck and fell down which led to the odd-man rush. Evan Bouchard took a pass from Mattias Janmark and beat Swayman with a perfectly placed wrist shot.
In the third period, Patrice Bergeron made a pass back to Charlie McAvoy at center ice into the defensive zone and the pass was wide of the Bruins defenseman. Devin Shore collected the loose puck and fed Ryan McLeod in the slot and he beat Swayman to tie the game. Both of those goals allowed Nurse’s late in the third to be the game-winner.
Burins Were Too Passive Offensively
After seeing Skinner fighting the puck in the first period, you would have thought that whenever the Bruins had an opportunity to shoot the puck they would, but they always didn’t. There were too many instances where they looked to make a pass instead of shooting the puck and that was never more evident than with Charlie Coyle in the second period.
On the same shift, the third-line center twice had an opportunity to shoot the puck in prime position but passed it up. Early in the shift, he was at the top of the slot, and instead of shooting, he tried a pass backward to Hampus Lindholm who was not expecting it and was forced to dump the puck behind the net to keep it from exiting the zone. Seconds later, Coyle collected the puck behind the net, circled out in front, and had a clear shooting lane, but opted to pass it to a covered Tyler Bertuzzi. Coyle was not the only one with a passive approach, but getting more pucks on Skinner, who left a lot of rebounds, should have been the message for the final two periods.
Quick Bruins’ Takeaways
- Recently the Bruins have been hit with injuries with Taylor Hall going on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) and Nick Foligno going on Injured reserve (IR), but they avoided two injuries to two key players against the Oilers. Jake DeBrusk collided with Mattias Ekholm in the first period and after being down on the ice for a minute, he slowly skated to the bench and locker room before returning. In the second period, Derek Forbort was hit in the hand blocking a shot and appeared to be in pain, but he was able to stay in the game. Forbort already missed a month this season with a broken middle finger.
- The Bruins’ new-look power play went scoreless in both opportunities in the first period. Dmitry Orlov was moved to the top unit in place of McAvoy, but they registered just one shot on the net and with their second chance, they had a David Krejci goal called back on an offsides. Still, a lot of work needs to be done before the playoffs.
- It was power against power when Edmonton had their only chance on the power play in the game in the third period. The Oilers have the league’s top unit and the Bruins have one of the league’s best penalty kill. Boston won that battle with Bergeron in the box and allowed just one shot on the net.
Boston will have a short turnaround as they have a back-to-back this weekend in a home-and-home with the Detroit Red Wings, with the second game on Sunday (March 12) kicking off a five-game road trip. Despite the loss, the Bruins hold a nine-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes in the race for home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, but this is a loss that will be hard to swallow and tough to watch on film.