Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid look to help the skidding Edmonton Oilers bounce back as Brad Marchand and the Boston Bruins visit on Thursday night.
Edmonton has dropped three straight entering its matchup with Boston. Since opening the season with nine wins in 10 games, the Oilers are playing .500 hockey with a 7-7-0 record over their past 14 contests.
On Tuesday, Jesse Puljujarvi had the lone Edmonton goal in a 4-1 home loss to the Minnesota Wild. McDavid assisted on Puljujarvi’s second-period tally that cut the Oilers’ deficit to 2-1, but Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen (22 saves) let up a pair of third-period goals.
“They came out of the gate and they were just better than us all night long,” McDavid said of the Wild. “We’ve kind of waded our way into games. We’re fine once we get going, but that’s not a real recipe for success.”
Edmonton will be looking to its star duo to provide a spark to get the team back on track.
Draisaitl and McDavid enter the game tied for the NHL lead in points with 43 apiece. Draisaitl leads the league with 21 goals while McDavid is on top with 27 assists.
Boston took its third loss in four games (1-1-2) with a 2-1 shootout defeat at Vancouver on Wednesday.
Bruins rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman (31 saves) allowed a second-period goal before Patrice Bergeron’s five-on-three goal 4:51 into the third tied it to eventually force overtime.
Neither side scored in the extra period before Swayman surrendered second- and third-round shootout goals to seal Boston’s fate.
“We had some opportunities, we passed up on some shots,” acting Bruins coach Joe Sacco said. “It would’ve been nice to get the extra point here (in Vancouver), but we have to regroup and get ready for a game (in Edmonton).”
Sacco, an assistant, served as the team’s bench boss as Boston coach Bruce Cassidy missed his fourth straight game in the league’s COVID-19 protocol.
The Bruins received a boost in the form of returning alternate captain Marchand.
The 33-year-old left winger missed the prior three games serving a suspension for slew-footing Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Boston’s 3-2 home win against Vancouver on Nov. 28.
Edmonton earned a 5-3 win in Boston in the teams’ first matchup on Nov. 11. Draisaitl netted a pair of third-period goals to help the Oilers prevail after rallying from deficits of 2-1 and 3-2.
Evan Bouchard, Zach Hyman and Cody Ceci also scored for Edmonton. Draisaitl and McDavid each added an assist while Koskinen made 26 saves in his first career start vs. the Bruins.
Boston got goals from David Pastrnak, Marchand and Brandon Carlo. Linus Ullmark (23 saves) allowed three unanswered goals in the final period and five total.
With Swayman starting on the first night of the back-to-back, Ullmark appears to be in line to get the start on Thursday. Ullmark is 2-2-0 with a .871 save percentage and a 3.52 goals-against average in five career starts against Edmonton.
Swayman, 23, has yet to face the Oilers over parts of two seasons. Edmonton’s 23-year-old backup netminder, Stuart Skinner, has never faced Boston.
–Field Level Media