Boston Bruins

Dec 9, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand (63) celebrates a first period goal against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

It had been 44 shots and zero goals for Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk.

The donut staring the Charlestown, Mass. native in the face was a daunting one, too. In fact, only five players had landed more pucks on net without signaling a red light in 2021-22. But with the Bruins and Oilers tied at 2-2 late in the third period, Grzelcyk made sure his 45th shot meant something to more than just his stat line, as the Grzelcyk bomb held as the game-winning marker in a much-needed 3-2 win over the Oilers at Edmonton’s Rogers Place.

“They did a lot of good things right,” Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco said of the work on Grzelcyk’s game-winning goal. “It started with a good strong forecheck. We won some puck battles. We did a good job of using our third forward high. He kicked it out to the [defense] because they were overloading their coverage and we had good net-front presence on the goal. The goalie ended up losing sight of it, and it was a good shot by Grz. Lot of good things on that goal.

“Our group went out and played hockey. It was a good response, especially after [the Oilers] got their second goal.”

The Grzelcyk tally, overdue for a number of reasons, also saved the Bruins from wasting a stellar performance in net for the second night in a row, as Linus Ullmark turned aside 41-of-43 shots faced for the victory. Ullmark’s 41 saves were a season-high, and the performance continued what’s been a strong mini-run for the 28-year-old, with three wins and a .938 save percentage in his last four decisions dating back to Nov. 20.

“Linus played a strong game for us,” Sacco said after the victory. “We needed that. The Oilers were waiting for us [and] we played last night. We knew our goaltender was going to have to be sharp. And he was. So good for him, so certainly we needed that from him. He played a fantastic game for us today.”

Ullmark even brought out the ol’ two-pad stack to keep the Bruins in this contest.

“When it goes well, it’s great,” Ullmark said of the windmill stop. “There’s sometimes where you’re just lying there like a dead fish. Then it’s not as great. It’s good to have [those saves] in your toolbox, but it’s not something you always want to rely on.”

Boston opened the game’s scoring with a classic shorthanded breakaway goal from Brad Marchand. The goal was Marchand’s team-leading 10th goal of the season and was his league-leading 13th shorthanded goal since the start of the 2016-17 season. In fact, the Bergeron-Marchand combo has now scored 23 shorthanded goals since 2016-17, which is as many as both the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles, and more than the Chicago Blackhawks (22) as teams over that stretch.

Jake DeBrusk put the B’s up 2-0 with a power-play goal sparked by a sweet no-look, backhand feed from Taylor Hall.

The goal had Edmonton fingerprints all over it, too, with Hall (the Oilers’ No. 1 overall pick in 2010) feeding the Edmonton-born DeBrusk. The 25-year-old DeBrusk has never hid from the fact that he grew up idolizing Hall, and as a bonus on the Edmonton front: Jake’s father, Louie, was the color commentator for Thursday’s game if you tuned into the Oilers’ broadcast.

Both of the Oilers’ goals in the losing effort came off the stick of Leon Draisaitl on the power play (and from the same spot). Extending his league-high goal total up to a staggering 23 markers, it’s worth noting that four of the German superstar’s 23 goals in 2021-22 have come against the Bruins (17 percent). Unfortunately for his goal total — but fortunately for the Bruins — Draisaitl will not get another 2021-22 head-to-head with Boston.

The Bruins will wrap up their road trip Saturday night in Calgary against the Flames.

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