David Krejci

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. 

Bruins "respond a lot better" in win over the Blues

Bruins "respond a lot better" in win over the Blues

BOSTON – Clearly it wasn’t a life-or-death type situation for the Bruins given their lofty place in the standings and the fact they’re still hot on the heels of an 18-game point streak. But the Bruins also wanted to see the proper response on Thursday night against a solid, heavy St. Louis Blues club after they struggled 48 hours earlier against a similarly solid, heavy Anaheim Ducks group when they rolled into Boston.

The Ducks caught the Bruins unprepared for their aggressive, in-your-face act with both teams coming out of the All-Star break, and Boston on the other hand wanted to show that loss was more aberrational loss than longstanding trend. So the Bruins vowed to get off to the kind of strong start that had eluded them in the recent past, and they also committed to playing hard-nosed game against a St. Louis opponent that wasn’t going to ease up on them.

MORE BRUINS: Bruins back on track, beat Blues 3-1

In many ways the B’s basically vowed to knock the complacency out of their game that built up a bit over the course of their 18-game streak.  

It was blue collar work around the net from Ryan Spooner and Jake DeBrusk that opened things up for David Krejci’s first period goal, and that snapped a run of eight straight games where the Bruins had allowed the first goal. That makes all the difference for the Black and Gold, who improved to 19-1-5 in games this season when they’re able to score first and play more of the front-runner role.

“We obviously don’t plan to get scored on, but there was a reason why we fell behind a few games,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “I think we wanted to correct those issues, and I think we did [against the Blues]. So we’ve got to be ready for the next game to get a good start. The games have been played for 60 minutes, so we have to be ready to play them for 60 minutes.

“Guys are obviously very competitive, we want to win every game, there were a lot of battles. You could see the guys were really stepping out of their comfort zone, skill guys making some big plays and determined to win the battles along the wall.”

Guys were physical, but also making plays so that’s what you need from a team.

Like so many things this season, the Bruins did everything right against the Blues including scoring the game’s first goal in the opening 20 minutes and matching St. Louis in the physicality department from beginning to end. In doing both of those things, they looked like a team ready to take on some of the more challenging aspects of their remaining schedule.

“I thought we came out strong, and it’s a good team that we played. They play a physical and fast type of hockey, just like we played against Anaheim and they took it to us last game,” said Patrice Bergeron. “I thought tonight we responded a lot better and we got the result for it. I think we’ve showed character all year and it’s just another example.

MORE BRUINS: Rask, Bruins bear down and bounce back

“You know, there are not many guys in here that need to be told twice. I think they’ve realized what it was last game, what we could’ve done better and right away turned the page and moved on to tonight’s game.”

It was an encouraging thing to see the Bruins snapping out of some recent team-wide habits and doing so against a strong Western Conference that looks like they’re going to be playoff-bound. David Backes threw a team-high five hits and clobbered Blues players with the same tone-setting ferocity on both his first and final shifts of the game. 

The Bruins are going to need to be willing to fight along the boards the rest of the way, and have smaller skill players like Ryan Spooner or Torey Krug ready to get their noses dirty. Clearly the Black and Gold are about speed, skill, depth and playing some pretty strong two-way hockey, but they will be tested sorely down the stretch in the toughness and resolve departments.

As Chara said, many Bruins players “got out of their comfort zones” for a good result against a worthy Blues adversary on Thursday, and they’re going to need much more of that moving forward to eventually get where they want to go.

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