EDMONTON—The Bruins made their first foray into overtime of the season and it wasn't a pleasant one.
Superstar Connor McDavid intercepted a Brad Marchand home run pass attempt intended for Patrice Bergeron and came back on a 2-on-1, feeding Leon Draisaitl for the winner just 37 seconds into the extra session Thursday night to lift the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 win at Rogers Place.
“I tried to throw sauce on that. I saw Bergy going and obviously I should have thrown it a little harder,” said Marchand of his attempt at a pass. “I saw Bergy and I didn't really know how close McDavid was. I just wanted to get it up there and obviously it didn't work out.”
The ending was not what the B's were looking for, but the process was. They played a much better game than they did Wednesday in Calgary. They dominated the first period but had no luck around the net as David Krejci his the crossbar and Marchand was robbed of a great stick play by defenseman Darnell Nurse on the goal line.
The teams traded goals in the second and third, with the B's taking the first lead of the game on a Krejci goal. Then after allowing back-toback goals by the Oilers (Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan Nugent Hopkins), they had to come back and tie it on David Pastrnak's goal to get the point before McDavid and Draisaitl combined on the winner.
“I thought we played well enough to win,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You can talk about the circumstance — their home opener, they were sitting here waiting for us. But at the end of the day, I thought we played well enough to win. We went down to the wire and they made a play. Their best player with a good backcheck picked off a pass. We were holding our breath hoping we'd get out of that. But he ended up making his play, so full marks to him for that.”
The B's also got a generally strong performance from Jaroslav Halak (19 saves), who didn't see a heavy barrage from the Oilers but was beaten on three pretty good goals.
But there are areas that the B's can get better, and the power play is one of them. They went 0-for-4 Wednesday, including a two-man advantage in the third period that could have gotten them back in the game. They went 0-for-3 against the Oilers, including one with just over five minutes left in regulation with the score tied. They didn't get a shot on net on that one.
What's ailing the man-advantage?
“Execution,” Cassidy said. “We've had two backdoor plays two nights in a row. After they take away Bergy and Pasta, the third option is the top of the crease. (Matt Grzelcyk) threw one into (Anders) Bjork (on Wednesday) and he missed it. We threw one into (Ryan) Donato tonight and he missed it. You start burying those and now you become that team that's got three threats. That's part of it, opportunities missed around the net. The third power play, I don't know. I think they were hungry for the kill. We didn't work hard enough to get the puck in the zone and set up. We got a little bit individual there on our entries and it cost us. We never got set up.”
Charlie McAvoy had some rough moments in the game. He was beaten on Yamamoto's tying goal in the second period after Krejci had given the B's the lead and was then in the box for holding the stick in the offensive zone when Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers the lead at 7:33 of the third after McDavid's shot/pass went off the end boards and right to him.
But McAvoy was in the midst of the B's tying goal at 11:26. The defenseman jumped in on the forecheck with Bergeron and pushed the puck to Marchand, who fed Pastrnak out high. Pastrnak beat Cam Talbot for his eighth of the season at 11:26 of the third.
Finally, he was in the unenviable position of being the only man back on the game-winner with two supremely talented offensive players. And, once the puck was on McDavid's stick, the ending seemed inevitable.