Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

The Bruins have hit the point where losses feel downright alien.

On the wrong end of a 3-2 final Thursday night at TD Garden, the Black and Gold’s letdown against the Oilers marked just their third regulation loss of the 2023 calendar year at home, and their first since last month’s setback against the Capitals. The defeat also put an end to Boston’s 10-game win streak, and came with some sharp criticism from Bruins head Jim Montgomery, or about as sharp as it can be following a streak-snapping defeat.

“We were a very noncompetitive team offensively tonight, I guess is the best way to say it,” Montgomery, who also noted that he was out-coached by the Oilers’ Jay Woodcroft in the loss, said after the defeat. “Turning down shots, not driving to hard areas, not winning enough battles to create o-zone time. It’s a good lesson for us to learn.”

The B’s loss also came with Connor McDavid held off the score sheet completely for just the seventh time all season, and it marked just the second win for the 2022-23 Oilers when No. 97 went without a point. That’s either an added kick in the pants or a silver lining, depending on your point of view, I’d imagine.

Here are the 98.5 The Sports Hub (dot com) 3 Stars of the game from a loss at TDG…

  • No. 3 Star: Stuart Skinner

    Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) celebrates with goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) after defeating the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Mattias Ekholm (14) celebrates with goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) after defeating the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • The B’s had their chances to bury the Oilers’ Stuart Skinner early in this contest, and they almost did.

    Tagged for a (seriously leaky) goal on the first shot his face in this game, the Bruins then doubled their lead and took a two-goal edge into the first intermission on a goal scored with 0.2 seconds remaining in the period, and had two goals on 10 shots in the opening 20 minutes of play. (It would’ve been three goals on 11 shots had it not been for a successful coach’s challenge from the Oilers, too.)

    But from there, Skinner buckled down, and stopped the 18 shots the Bruins threw on his goal to help lead the Edmonton comeback on Boston ice. Skinner was especially strong in the third period, and really failed to produce any juicy rebounds for the Bruins to bang home.

    The 2023 All-Star also finished the night with a perfect 6-for-6 mark on high-danger shots faced, and became just the ninth different goaltender to hold the B’s to under three goals at TD Garden this season.

  • No. 2 Star: David Pastrnak

    Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) after scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the first period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) celebrates with defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) after scoring a goal against the Edmonton Oilers at TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Boston’s lone multi-point scorer of the evening, Bruins winger David Pastrnak made sure to score his goal with some style, as it was a true buzzer beater for No. 88.

    In the Edmonton zone with almost no time remaining in the first period, it almost appeared that David Krejci held onto the puck too long, but it’s never too late when you’re talking about the one-time bomb of Pastrnak.

    Beating Skinner with just two-tenths of a second remaining in the period, the goal counted after a quick video review (confirmation) from the on-ice officials, and held as goal No. 45 for Pastrnak this season.

  • Pastrnak’s goal, along with the donut the B’s held McDavid to in the losing effort, brought Pastrnak within nine goals of the Edmonton superstar for the most in the league this season.

    At this rate, it feels downright impossible for anybody to catch McDavid in either goals or points this year, but Pastrnak still has a chance at some notable history within the Black and Gold franchise ranks.

    With 45 goals on the board and 19 games to go, Pastrnak is almost certainly going to become Boston’s first 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely in 1993-94. He also has an outside chance at becoming just the franchise’s second 60-goal scorer in team history, which has only been accomplished by Phil Esposito (and on four separate occasions) in the franchise’s nearly century-long history.

    Pastrnak’s 45 goals this season are already the 18th-most by any Bruin in a single season.

    The good news? They paid that man.

  • No. 1 Star: Darnell Nurse

    Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) celebrates after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the third period at the TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 9, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) celebrates after scoring against the Boston Bruins during the third period at the TD Garden. (Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports)

  • It wasn’t McDavid going end-to-end with his unparalleled speed or some classic Czechia-hivemind dancing from Boston’s second that made stole the show in this game. Instead, it was a seeing-eye sinker from Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse made the difference by the night’s end. Just as we all predicted, I’m sure.

    On the board with his first goal in 29 games, Nurse’s shot was a perfectly timed one in the sense that the release was low enough to cause problems, and came with Brandon Carlo and an Oiler providing a brutal screen on the Bruins’ Jeremy Swayman. By the time Swayman (19 saves in the loss) got a clear look on the Nurse shot, it was already well on its way through his wickets and a squeeze did him no good.

    But beyond the goal, Nurse provided the Oilers with some much-needed defensive-zone, net-front jam against Boston’s bottom six, and finished the night with a team-high five shots and 24:41 of time on ice. Nurse also chipped in with three blocked shots and three hits in a slow-and-steady kind of performance for the Oil.

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