Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was seven the last time the Edmonton Oilers
beat the Boston Bruins.
The 20-year-old Oilers center will try to help end his team’s
10-game skid against the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins on
Thursday night in Edmonton.
The Bruins’ surge since early last month is hardly a surprise,
but the Oilers’ recent outstanding play has been unexpected.
Boston (21-8-2) has gone 13-3-1 in its last 17 games, knocking
off Calgary 2-1 on Tuesday. The Bruins trailed 1-0 entering the
third before David Krejci and Reilly Smith scored as Boston outshot
the Flames 15-5 in the final 20 minutes.
“We just got back to playing Bruins hockey,” Smith told the
team’s official website. “The first two periods, we got away from
it. I think we were making too many hope plays, we weren’t trying
hard enough to turn the puck over and stick to our game plan. We
got back to it in the third and I think that changed our game
Boston has given up two or fewer goals 13 times in the past 17
Smith has four points in three games while Krejci’s goal gave
him his ninth point in his last nine contests. He leads the team
with 25 points.
The win capped Jarome Iginla’s return to Calgary, where he spend
his first 15-plus seasons. The forward also has fond memories of
Edmonton, where he’s recorded seven points in his last four games.
He has 82 career points against the Oilers, his highest total
against any team.
Tuukka Rask made 26 saves against the Flames for his 16th win.
He’s 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average in his career against
Edmonton, though his availability for this game is uncertain as he
missed practice Wednesday with the flu.
After a woeful start, Edmonton (11-18-3) has gone 7-3-1 in its
last 11, recording 40 goals in that span. Now it will look to stop
an 0-7-3 skid against Boston that began after a 6-1 home victory
Oct. 17, 2000.
“We are working hard to get out of the hole we created for
ourselves and it seems we are on a bit of a run now,” said forward
Taylor Hall, who has eight points in his last four games. “Now it
is time to get two (wins) in a row.”
The Oilers are 2-1-1 on their five-game homestand after a 5-4
overtime victory over Carolina on Tuesday. Hall, Nugent-Hopkins,
Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov each had a goal and an assist, with
Eberle scoring the winner.
The Oilers won despite blowing a 4-1 second-period lead. Despite
the surge, they’re still in last place in the West.
“I don’t expect people to be jumping up and down, if that’s our
record over the last little bit,” coach Dallas Eakins told the
team’s official website. “The thing that we’ve done to ourselves is
we’ve put ourselves in such a large hole that even when you are
playing well over a stretch, everybody wakes up in the morning …
they look at the standings.
“Even a game like tonight when you put two in the bank, the
standings still have you where you’re at and that’s the hole we
have to climb out of.”
Defenseman Jeff Petry could return from a one-game absence due
to an upper-body injury.
Edmonton defenseman Andrew Ference will face his former team for
the first time after spending six-plus seasons in Boston. Ference
signed a four-year contract with his hometown team in July.