Bruins

Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

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Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' actual 2-3-0 won-loss record isn’t particularly terrible, especially when you consider they were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.

But they've been wildly inconsistent within those first five games, playing a couple of very good games against the Predators and Coyotes while suffering three ugly, non-competitive losses to Colorado and Vegas. The Bruins are 20th in goals scored (2.8 goals per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.6), and their special teams have been average at best in a soft part of the schedule that should have allowed them to get off to a good start.

The Bruins have looked sloppy much of the time with chaotic breakouts, far too many breakdowns in defensive coverage, and goaltending has been average at best.

As a result they're scuffling in the Atlantic Division as the Lightning and Maple Leafs have sprinted out to strong starts. Clearly it’s still early -- nearly the entire season is in front of them -- but there’s also no illusion about the need for a quick turnaround in what’s going to be a competitive division.

That's why the next four games, all at TD Garden, are so important.

“We’ve been inconsistent in our game. We’ve been good and we’ve been not good, so hopefully being home will allow us to get back into form,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We knew going in with a youth movement that we’d had some ups and downs. We’ve had both. We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some other games where there’s a learning curve.

“As good as [our] prospects are, it falls on the core group to be solid and consistent every night. Then you lose a bit of your core group [to injuries] and you need your support players that aren’t your core group -- but aren’t kids, either -- to contribute. So we’re battling through all of that, and it’s up to us to put in a game plan that gets us through it. We haven’t achieved the level we’d like. We aren’t hiding behind that. We’d like to be better than we are right now, and we’re facing it head on every day.”

Clearly there are plenty of players in the “support player” category referenced by Cassidy who haven’t performed to date, and that also explains some of the Bruins consistency issues. Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Riley Nash have a combined two assists and a combined minus-5 rating through those first five games, and are among the players that need to step up and perform if the Bruins are going to start achieving the consistency that Cassidy is actively seeking right now.

Krejci snaps tie late in 3rd, Bruins rally past Oilers 3-2

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Krejci snaps tie late in 3rd, Bruins rally past Oilers 3-2

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Patience paid off for the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

David Krejci broke a tie with 1:04 remaining and Boston rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Noel Acciari and Matt Grzelcyk also scored for the Bruins (37-13-8), who have won seven of nine and are one point back of NHL-leading Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. Boston trailed 2-0 before scoring three times in the third period.

"We have a will to win," coach Bruce Cassidy said. "There are 82 of these and sometimes you just don't have it, but I think our group is pretty good at pushing right to the end. It would have been easy for us to say it was our third game in four nights and we were playing back-to-back games, and maybe it is not our night after the frustration early on of not being able to finish and (Oilers goalie Cam Talbot) being really good, but we stuck with it."

Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin agreed the key was staying positive after falling behind a team they felt they were outplaying.

"If you are thinking things aren't going your way, then they are never going to go your way," he said. "You have to keep positive, keep playing and shooting and you are going to get rewarded. We were rewarded tonight."

Ryan Strome and Jujhar Khaira had the goals for the Oilers (24-31-4), who have lost seven of eight.

"At the end of the day, you're here for wins and losses and it's tough to take moral victories out of the game," Strome said. "We know the position we're in and that's a disappointing result after 40 good minutes."

The Oilers scored the game's first goal with 1:31 left in the opening period - despite being outshot 13-2 to that point - when Strome beat Khudobin on a 2-on-1 break for his ninth of the season.

The Bruins came close five minutes into the second when David Pastrnak's shot clanged off the post behind Talbot, but instead the Oilers extended their lead just more than six minutes later when a knuckler by Khaira beat Khudobin up high.

The shots favored the Bruins 29-14 through 40 minutes.

Boston got on the board 4:37 into the third when Acciari swung a puck in front of the Edmonton net and it bounced off Strome and in to make it 2-1.

The Bruins tied it with eight minutes to play after a flurry in front led to Grzelcyk putting the puck past a diving Talbot.

Boston completed the comeback with just 64 seconds to play in the third, after the Oilers lost control of the puck in their own end. Danton Heinen sent it out in front, allowing Krejci to score his 11th of the season.

NOTES: It was the second and final meeting this season between the teams. The Oilers took the first game 4-2 in Boston on Nov. 26. ... Oilers defenseman Kris Russellplayed his 700th NHL game. ... The Bruins acquired D Nick Holden from the New York Rangers for minor league defenseman Rob O'Gara and their third-round pick in this year's draft. Holden was not in Edmonton in time for the game.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Saturday at Toronto.

Oilers: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Talking points: Noel Acciari's goal helps inspire comeback

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Talking points: Noel Acciari's goal helps inspire comeback

GOLD STAR: Zdeno Chara didn’t factor into the scoring for the Bruins, but the 6-foot-9, 40-year-old captain was massive against the Oilers in his role as a shutdown performer. Chara was locked up with Connor McDavid throughout the 60 minutes of regulation play, and it was that constant attention being paid by Big Zee that helped keep the Edmonton wunderkind under wraps with just a couple of shots on net. Above and beyond the simple, vital defensive shutdown work for the Bruins that goes without saying, Chara set the tone physically as well with team-highs in registered hits (five) and blocked shots (five) in his 22:39 of ice time. He finished a plus-1, wasn’t scored on and instead continued to draw energy and enthusiasm doing his defensive work even though it was the second end of a back-to-back fairly late in the season. 

BLACK EYE: Leon Draisaitl had to know that he was in for a battle against the Bruins based on their center strength down the middle, and he clearly came up on the short end of the stick along with his Oilers. Draisaitl finished with no shots on net, a couple of giveaways and not much else going on aside from going 12-for-26 in a face-off performance that wasn’t very good either. Draisaitl is counted on to be a big time player for the Oilers and team with Connor McDavid as a 1-2 punch carrying them on offense when things aren’t going well. That didn’t happen with Edmonton’s German import and the rest of an Oilers group. Once again, they fell short after building up and holding a two-goal lead for most of the game. Things would have been much better for the Oil if Draisaitl could have finished off an offensive play or two on an evening where it was all hands on deck against the Bruins. 

TURNING POINT: It was all about Noel Acciari finally breaking through in the third period with his high effort goal, and that stirred everything else into gear as everybody suddenly started believing in the comeback. That turned into three unanswered goals in the third period that led the Bruins to the two points. Acciari motored down the wing, fired a shot at the net and gathered his own rebound behind the net before wrapping it inside the post on the opposite side for his first score in a while since battling injuries over the last few weeks. That bit of fourth line opportunistic offense really started things percolating with the Bruins offense, and led to a couple more goals from a Boston bunch that refused to lose once again.  

HONORABLE MENTION: Give it up for David Krejci stepping up in the final minutes and scoring the game-winning goal as he stepped up to finish off a great play that started with both Danton Heinen and David Backes. Krejci finished with a goal in 17:23 of ice time, three shots on net, a registered hit and 8-of-13 face-off wins in a solid night, but he really seemed to flourish when Bruce Cassidy switched him out with Riley Nash for a bit of a third period spark. That’s when Backes and Heinen responded to playing with No. 46, and ultimately teamed up for the game-winner after Nash had set up the game-tying goal with his new linemates in Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Spooner. Take a bow for those line changes in the third period down by a couple of goals, Bruce Cassidy!

BY THE NUMBERS: 142 – the fewest goals allowed in the NHL this season is something proudly carried around this season, and it’s really not even close with Nashville as the next team with 154 goals allowed this season. 

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We’ll have to see how quickly he really adapts to our system, and then go from there.” –Bruce Cassidy to reporters in Edmonton, when asking how long it will be for newly traded D-man Nick Holden to get in the lineup for the Bruins.