BOSTON – For all of the bluster, boos and hand-wringing after the Bruins dropped a flat-line effort to the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week, it was all forgotten in a solid, suffocating win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
The Bruins shut down the high-powered skill of Edmonton, and finished strong with three third period goals in the 4-0 victory over the Oilers at TD Garden that pushed their record to 8-1-1 in matinees. As emotionally unavailable as the Bruins were against the Habs, they are still in an eight game stretch where they’ve taken 13-of-16 points and piled up a 6-1-1 record over that span.
The whole key to stabilizing the situation was making sure one aberrational loss didn’t turn into a losing streak.
“I’ve been in that situation with Dallas, and it’s tough when you start losing a couple in a row,” said Loui Eriksson, who had a goal disallowed in the second period when it was ruled a “distinct kicking motion.” “We don’t do that here and that’s why they’ve been so good, and why we’re in the top of the standings too. If we lose one [game] we always come back hard and play good the second game after that.”
Eriksson is certainly a long way from Dallas-style losing streaks these days.
The Saturday win over the Oil was Bruins hockey in every way possible, and looked very much like the rest of the wins in their recent stretch. The offensive zone time was plentiful, and there were few turnovers against an Oilers team that still doesn’t look quite ready for prime time.
“I think we kind of got back to the way we were playing before that last game,” said Matt Bartkowski. “We managed the puck a lot better, and broke out pretty well.
“I can’t really remember spending much time in our own end. That led to offense and then we managed to get some goals and win. As long as we manage the puck well we tend to do pretty well.”
It was clear pretty early in the game that the Bruins were back to defensive basics after allowing countless breakaways and odd-man rushes to a speedy Habs attack that pounced on their every mistake. Instead they allowed just two Edmonton shots on goal in the first period, and Chad Johnson stopped everything that did get through with a 22-save shutout effort.
“That’s a team that I think every team in the league aspires to be defensively. They don’t give up much,” said Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins. “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. I was encouraged that we were only a goal out going into the third, but discouraged that we weren’t getting many chances.
“I think Taylor Hall had maybe half of our chances on net by himself, that line had a few. We were having trouble with the other lines getting any chances at all. It’s a credit to Boston how they play. They aren’t the best defensive team in the league for no reason.”
Now the Bruins can turn the page on the ugly, boring loss to Montreal, and instead focus on finishing up strong with just three games remaining until the Olympic break hits the pause button on the regular season.