Bruins stay perfect on West swing, beat Oilers
It only took one period to show why the Bruins are a Stanley Cup contender and the Oilers continue to be one of the biggest disappointments in the NHL this season. Boston (22-8-2) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first at Rexall Place Thursday, then held on for a 4-2 victory over Edmonton.
Jarome Iginla’s empty-netter clinched it for the B’s and Chad Johnson made a career-high 39 saves to hand the Bruins their fourth straight win. The B’s have a chance for a perfect Western Canada road trip if they can win in Vancouver on Saturday (10 p.m., NESN).
Dennis Seidenberg’s first goal of the season (and first in 26 games dating back to last season) was an early Christmas present from Oilers goaltender Devin Dubnyk. Granted the puck was on edge, but Seidenberg’s weak wrist shot was a routine save for most. Iginla made it 2-0 thanks to slap shot through a screen from Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand increased Boston’s advantage to 3-0 with a short-handed goal and one-timer from Patrice Bergeron.
Dubnyk’s night was over after 20 rough minutes as Jason LaBarbera entered to start the second period. That move sparked Edmonton, or at least Perron; first he beat Johnson up high with a wrist shot then Johnson (6-1) made his only real mistake in his best performance of the season, allowing Perron to wraparound the net with one hand on his stick and shovel the puck over the line. In between the Perron highlight reel tally, Milan Lucic and Luke Gazdic traded huge punches in a heavyweight fight.
Perron nearly got a hat trick, which would have tied the game, when his tip attempt on a power-play hit the post late in the third period. Edmonton outshot Boston 13-3 in the final frame but the Bruins managed to survive two Oilers power plays.
What they’ll be saying: It can’t be much fun rooting for the Oilers; this season they were finally supposed to be good again with a bevy of high draft picks from the last few years only to fall flat on their face once again (worst team in the Western Conference, only the Islanders and Sabres have fewer points). Much like in the NFL where you won’t get anywhere without a quarterback, it’s tough to win in hockey without a decent goaltender. With all their offensive talent, it’s hard to believe Edmonton hasn’t pulled the trigger for a goaltender. Dubnyk and LaBarbera will lead them to the lottery, that’s about it. For once, there were no lineup changes for the Bruins at least compared to their last game in Calgary on Tuesday. Seidenberg took a puck to the face (no shield?) but he bounced back. Also, Torey Krug went down gingerly with a back/shoulder issue but he stayed in there too. Boston will have their hands full on Saturday against the Canucks (who have won their last five heading into a game vs. Edmonton tomorrow night). Vancouver is not Calgary or the Oilers, they actually will make the playoffs. Tuukka Rask was out tonight with the flu but this buys him some extra time before meeting the Canucks.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate