The NHL’s leading goal-scorer will match up against two of its most potent offensive stars as the Boston Bruins host the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday afternoon.
David Pastrnak became the first player this season to reach 30 goals in the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, extending his point streak to nine (four goals, 10 assists). The game also gave the Bruins at least one point in nine straight (4-0-5).
The Oilers have lost nine of their last 12 (3-7-2), but Connor McDavid (22 goals, 42 assists) and Leon Draisaitl (23, 40) are still Nos. 1 and 2 in the NHL in points. Edmonton has dropped five of its last seven on the road (2-4-1), including Thursday in overtime at the Buffalo Sabres.
The Oilers and Bruins are playing for the first time this season and will meet in Edmonton on Feb. 19. Boston has struggled in the series of late, losing seven of the last nine matchups (2-3-4).
Closing out wins has been hard to come by this season for the Bruins, who lead the league by a large margin with their 11 overtime losses. They added to the total Thursday night when Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Columbus 52 seconds into overtime to complete the Blue Jackets’ rally from down 1-0 to begin the third period.
“It’s another lead going into the third period we weren’t able to close out,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters after the game. “That’s as frustrating as anything.”
Midway through the second period, Pastrnak scored his 30th goal on the power play in just his 42nd game this season, but Boston couldn’t maintain the lead. The tally extended the Bruins’ streak to nine straight games with a power-play goal, though it means little when the result is the same.
“Probably getting a little bit in our head,” Pastrnak said of the extra-period woes. “We want to win a lot of those. Missing some confidence there. We haven’t been doing well in it, so it’s frustrating.”
The Oilers know a thing or two about frustrating. Since starting the season 7-1-0, Edmonton has struggled to a 14-16-5 clip, the most recent defeat seeing the team blow a 2-0 first-period lead before eventually falling 3-2 in overtime to the Sabres.
“It’s kind of the same story,” said McDavid, who was held scoreless on four shots. “We’ve got to find a way to defend a lead better.”
The Oilers’ new-look second line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto combined for a goal off Nugent-Hopkins’ stick in the contest. The shakeup has come while center Sam Gagner has been a healthy scratch over four of the last five games.
“We did some good things tonight,” coach Dave Tippett said after the Buffalo loss, “but there are some key areas we need to clean up.”
Despite its skid, Edmonton has been able to remain relatively healthy on the injury front of late. Boston, meanwhile, had defenders Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy and center David Krejci return from injuries Thursday.
–Field Level Media