The Boston Bruins seemed to be cruising toward a win before they had to hold on to beat the Edmonton Oilers.
Article continues below ...
Jarome Iginla scored a pair of goals, and the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins outlasted the West cellar-dwelling Oilers 4-2 on Thursday night.
Dennis Seidenberg and Brad Marchand also had goals for the Bruins (22-8-2), who have won four in a row and eight of 10.
The Bruins had a 3-0 lead after the first period, but found themselves under siege for much of the rest of the game.
"I told the guys that they would come back hard on us," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I didn’t like the goals we gave up for what we expect of our team. They were sloppy, but credit to the Oilers.
"They skated and showed their skill level and gave us a really tough game. At the end we were just hanging on. Our bench is short and we have been struggling with the health of our team and you could see that it was a matter of winning it in regulation or I don’t think we come out of here with a win."
Marchand said all that mattered was the fact the Bruins skated off on top.
"It’s a road win, and we have to be happy with it," he said. "We know we are not going to put our best game on the ice every night, but we want to keep building. With all of the injuries we have right now, every win is huge."
Backup goalie Chad Johnson made 39 saves. He was especially tested in the third period when the Bruins were outshot 13-3.
"It was a tough game to hold on in," he said. "Sometimes it is like that. Sometimes you have to hold on. We battled really hard. I thought the guys did a good job killing penalties and battling defensively."
David Perron netted both goals for the Oilers (11-19-3), who have lost two of three. They dropped to 6-10-2 at home.
"I don’t know if we won a battle in the first period," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I don’t know if we were, `The Bruins are in town, they’re one of the best teams in the league and we need to play cautious.’
"You can’t play cautious against anybody, you’ll get killed if you give them too much time and space. But even though we weren’t winning the battles, I didn’t think the first period was as bad as the shot clock showed or the score was."
Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk whiffed on a long shot from the blue line by Seidenberg, who sent the puck in while his team made a line change at 10:25 of the first period.
Boston made it 2-0 with four minutes left in the opening period on another long shot goal as Edmonton-area native Iginla scored on a slap shot, with Milan Lucic providing a screen in front.
It was Iginla’s first game in Edmonton as a member of a team other than the rival Calgary Flames.
The Bruins took a dominating three-goal edge with a short-handed goal with 1:43 left in the first.
Philip Larsen’s shot was blocked at the point, allowing Boston to go on a 2-on-1 break that was capitalized on when Patrice Bergeron fed Marchand for his fifth goal.
The Oilers have allowed an NHL-high seven short-handed goals this season.
Edmonton backup goalie Jason LaBarbera replaced Dubnyk to start the second period.
The Oilers got on the board 3:25 into the second period when Perron gained the zone and beat Johnson stick-side with a quick wrist shot for this team-leading 13th goal.
Edmonton cut the deficit to 3-2 with 2:33 left in the second. Perron picked up the puck behind the net and fought off Bergeron with one hand while hooking the puck around and into the net.
The teams were tied in shots 28-28 through two periods.
The Oilers pressed hard for the tying goal in the first 13 minutes of the third period — outshooting the Bruins 10-0 — but were unable to get a shot past Johnson.
Edmonton were all over Boston’s zone, but the Bruins were able to seal the victory on Iginla’s empty-net goal in the final minute.
NOTES: It was Edmonton D Andrew Ference’s first game against the Bruins since he joined the Oilers as a free agent during the summer and was named captain. … The Bruins are battling the flu, and hardest hit was goalie Tuukka Rask, who served as the backup to Johnson. … The Bruins were also without forward Shawn Thornton, who was out pending a disciplinary hearing for his actions that caused an injury to Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik. … Out with injuries for Boston were forwards Daniel Paille (upper body), Loui Eriksson (concussion) and Chris Kelly (broken ankle), and defensemen Doug Hamilton (lower body) and Adam McQuaid (lower body). … The Oilers were missing forwards Boyd Gordon (shoulder) and Ryan Smyth (neck), and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (concussion). Defenseman Jeff Petry returned to the lineup.