BOSTON — It wouldn’t be hard for the Boston Bruins to improve their performance from their last game, but they did that and then some on Saturday afternoon against the Edmonton Oilers.
The B’s got back on track against the lowly Oilers as they rolled to a 4-0 win at TD Garden. The win was a much-needed rebound from the stinker the Bruins played Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. The Montreal game, one of the Bruins’ worst of the season, was brought on by poor effort and even worse execution. On Saturday against Edmonton, they fixed both of those issues.
While the B’s were dismantled from the opening faceoff against Montreal, they were the aggressors from the beginning on Saturday against the Oilers. The two teams played to a scoreless tie in the first period, but the Bruins had the much better of the chances, attempting 24 shots in the first period (nine on goal), while Edmonton attempted just six with two of those getting to goalie Chad Johnson.
Boston finally broke through in the second period on the power play. David Krejci was credited with the goal after his shot from the right point hit Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ skate in front and beat Ben Scrivens. The goal ended Scrivens’ 103-save and 1:26:41 shutout streaks and put the Bruins ahead.
Despite being the much better team through 40 minutes, the Bruins only had the one goal to show for it. Against a team that has the offensive capability the Oilers can sometimes feature, that one-goal lead is far from a lock. The Bruins came out in the third period, however, and finally started to cash in on their chances. Dougie Hamilton started things with a goal 6:43 into the period, and that opened the floodgates with goals from Carl Soderberg and Torey Krug to follow.
“You’ve got a 1-0 lead after two periods, and it’s a little bit nerve-wracking because you feel like you probably deserve a little bit better than that, but it was important that we just went out there and got that next one,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “I thought that goal by Dougie kind of made everyone relax a little bit more and our game seemed to get better after that, too. We just seemed to execute some scoring chances a little bit better.”
The real difference between Thursday and Saturday was the Bruins’ defense. Starting in that first period where they allowed just two shots on goal, Boston was much more defensively responsible against an Edmonton team that has a good deal of team speed. That team speed is what gave the Bruins fits against Montreal, but they made the necessary adjustments and kept the Oilers bottled up all game.
“That’s a team that I think every team in the league aspires to be defensively, they don’t give up much,” Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins said. “We talked about it before the game, that this team is just going to sit there, they are comfortable in a 0-0 or 1-0 game and if you make a mistake they are going to pounce and then they are going to go back and set up their traps again.”
The much tighter defense also made life easier on the goaltender. Johnson only had to make one really tough save when he stopped Ales Hemsky on a breakaway for his first save of the afternoon. From there, it was smooth sailing for the Bruins’ backup who made 22 saves for his second career shutout. Johnson continues to impress in that role, as he’s now 4-0-0 with a .939 save percentage since January.
“I think you get more comfortable,” Johnson said of his recent increase in workload. “I think that routine, the flow of the game, it comes a lot easier for you. The focus is always there. That experience you have with playing more and getting just that flow like I always say, and it definitely helps playing closer together and within days of each game that I play.”
All together, it was a much better effort in every aspect of the game for the Bruins, which was certainly a welcomed sight after the disaster earlier in the week. The Bruins now have just three games remaining before the Olympic break, and Saturday’s bounce-back effort has got them back on track to a strong finish before the two-week recess.