After Thursday’s debacle vs. Montreal, a puzzling 4-1 loss, the Bruins predictably looked like a different team on Saturday afternoon as they skated to an easy 4-0 victory over the hapless Oilers at TD Garden. Chad Johnson (22 saves) posted his first shutout for Boston (35-16-3) and only the second of his career. He’s won his last four starts as the B’s try to give Tuukka Rask a little extra rest before he heads to Sochi to represent Team Finland in the Olympics.
“It’s all about wins but a shutout is a bonus (his other one was Jan. 28, 2013 vs. Nashville while he was on Phoenix),” noted Johnson. “It has been nice to get starts closer together, everything becomes easier. I really had no idea that I’d be playing this much.” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said that Johnson has earned it: “His record (10-3-0) speaks for itself. He’s playing well and that allows me to feel good about putting him in there, knowing what he can do.”
Oilers (18-33-6) goaltender Ben Scrivens was coming off an NHL record 59-save shutout vs. San Jose on Wednesday. Things started out fine for him but eventually, Boston’s bombardment of shots (41) wore him down along with his team’s awful defense (they’ve allowed 194 goals, most in the NHL). The Bruins scored a pair of power-play goals, by David Krejci and Torey Krug, bookends around tallies from Dougie Hamilton and Carl Soderberg.
Krejci scored early in the second when his shot from the point deflected off an Oiler in front. The Bruins only led 1-0 after two periods despite outshooting the Oilers 22-12. When Boston started putting more of their shots on net, life became much easier. Hamilton followed his own rebound and wrapped around the net for his goal then Soderberg roofed a shot by Scrivens. Krug’s goal was a product of fine passing by Zdeno Chara (2 assists) and Jarome Iginla (2 assists).
Boston wraps up this four-game homestand on Tuesday (7, NESN) vs. Vancouver. The Canucks embarrassed the Bruins 6-2 on Dec. 14 so it should be a good one. What they'll be saying: He never got as much credit as he deserved when he played here but the fans got it right today by loudly cheering former Bruins defenseman and Oilers captain Andrew Ference as he took the ice for his first shift. They also chanted “Thank You Ference.” Boston added to the good feelings with a short video tribute showing some highlights of Ference’s days in Black and Gold.
You see the scores and read about their games but seeing the Oilers up close, you realize how far away they are from doing anything. Boston won, 4-2, in Edmonton on Dec. 12 so the B’s swept both games from the second worst team in the NHL (the Sabres have four less points). Scrivens was recently acquired in a trade from LA and he looks like he could be their No. 1 goaltender. In the next draft and free agency, they need to get a bunch of defensemen.
Soderberg (1 goal, 1 assist) has become the player that Boston thought they were getting. Julien has used him at center the last two games to ease Kelly back into action.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate