EDMONTON - The Boston Bruins found another gear when they needed it most on Thursday.
Matt Grzelcyk scored the game winner late in the third as the Bruins snapped a two-game losing skid with a 3-2 victory over the suddenly slumping Edmonton Oilers.
Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk also scored for the Bruins, who improved to 13-8-2.
“We just started playing our game in the third and it took us a couple of periods to get going,” said Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco. “Our group knew that we hadn’t played our best hockey after two periods and they went out and played hockey.
"We felt like we were in a situation after two and we needed to keep playing, don’t sit back, stay on the attack and don’t be passive. It was a better third and it was a good response after they got their second goal.”
Leon Draisaitl had two goals in response for the Oilers (16-9-0), who have lost four games in a row.
“I think the last two games probably could have gone either way,” Draisaitl said. “I thought we were the better team tonight, but that’s the NHL. We’ve won games too where we got outplayed.
“That is the way it goes when you are slumping, you find a way to lose these kinds of games. We have to find a way to get out of it."
Connor McDavid and Tyson Barrie each had a pair of assists for the Oilers in the loss.
The Bruins scored the game’s first goal with 3:45 left in the first period as Patrice Bergeron sprung Marchand on a shorthanded breakaway, and he made no mistake putting his 10th goal of the season past Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner.
Boston took a two-goal lead two minutes into the second period on the power play as DeBrusk was left alone in front and scored his fifth, much to the consternation of the hometown fans who thought the Bruins should have been assessed a penalty on the play after a trip prevented them from clearing the zone.
Edmonton closed to within a goal with just under two minutes to play in the middle frame as its previously potent power play finally got back on track. Draisaitl blasted a one-timer from a difficult angle to beat Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark to the short side.
The Oilers tied it up with another power play goal midway through the third as Draisaitl scored again from a sharp angle for his league-leading 23nd goal of the season. It was Draisaitl’s ninth two-goal game this year.
Boston got back in front with 2:33 left in the third after several chances and sustained pressure when Grzelcyk put his first of the season past Skinner.
“ I knew I had a lot of space so I tried to play with my head up and tried to hit the net first and foremost and likely it found some daylight,” Grzelcyk said.
Edmonton outshot Boston 43-30.
“It always feels better when they come back from a 2-0 deficit and we score the game-winning goal late in the third,” Ullmark said.
Both teams are back in action on Saturday as the Bruins are in Calgary to face the Flames and the Oilers host the Carolina Hurricanes.
Notes: The Oilers got a boost on defence as Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after a bout of COVID that kept him at home for the last four games… Remaining out with injuries for Edmonton were Mike Smith (lower body), Slater Koekkoek (lower body) and Duncan Keith (upper body)… Missing for Boston were Tomas Nosek (illness) and Jakub Zboril (lower body)… Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy remains in COVID protocol, with Sacco temporarily taking his place… Edmonton defenceman Kris Russell left the game in the second period with an apparent shoulder injury.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2021.