The high-scoring Boston Bruins surged into their last game, only to turn in one of their more lackluster efforts of the season.
Getting back on track offensively could prove difficult if the Edmonton Oilers’ Ben Scrivens even approaches the level of brilliance of his last outing.
Boston will be facing Scrivens one game after he set an NHL record for saves in a shutout with 59 as the host Bruins seek their 12th straight win in the series Saturday.
The Bruins (34-16-3) came into Thursday’s home matchup with Montreal at 5-0-1 in their last six and having scored six goals in each of their last three, but were thoroughly outplayed in a 4-1 loss.
Boston struggled with the Canadiens’ speed and coach Claude Julien pulled Tuukka Rask in the second period after he allowed three goals on 18 shots.
”We didn’t skate. We didn’t execute, and we didn’t make good decisions,” Julien said. ”We weren’t very good.”
The Bruins outshot Florida 19-8 in the first period of a 6-2 win Tuesday and took 18 of the first 20 shots in a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders the day before, but Montreal held a 14-13 shot advantage in the opening 20 minutes as it scored the first two goals.
"We thought we were ready, but obviously we weren’t," center David Krejci told the team’s official website. "It is what it is. We lost. We didn’t like the way that we lost, but we’ve got to move on, forget about this game, and try to get ready for Saturday."
Scrivens won’t be forgetting about his last game anytime soon after his spectacular performance against San Jose on Wednesday. He stopped 20 shots in the first period, 22 in the second and 17 in the third of a 3-0 victory.
”I was seeing the puck well,” Scrivens said. ”We got extremely lucky with a couple of posts in the second.”
Coach Dallas Eakins said that Scrivens didn’t have any other choice but to play outstanding, as he wasn’t thrilled with the circumstances that led to the record-setting performance.
”That’s how I thought our skaters were playing the game; they were watching Ben play,” said Eakins, whose team had 27 shots on goal. ”It was an incredible thing to watch, I’ve never seen that before. I’m so happy for Ben and proud of him and then you’re mad at the same time.”
Scrivens could end up being very busy again Saturday. The Bruins have averaged nearly 36 shots in the past eight games, exceeding 40 three times, while Edmonton is allowing 32.2 shots per contest, among the highest marks in the league.
Scrivens, though, has given up one goal in his last two starts in helping Edmonton (18-32-6) to a season high-tying three consecutive wins. He’ll take his shot at delivering the Oilers’ first victory over the Bruins since Oct. 17, 2000 as the teams close out their season series.
Scrivens was still with Los Angeles for the first meeting of the season, a 4-2 Boston victory Dec. 12 in which Jarome Iginla scored twice and Chad Johnson made 39 saves for the Bruins, who were outshot 41-31.
The Oilers acquired veteran defenseman Mark Fraser from Toronto for two prospects Friday. He’ll give Edmonton size and toughness on the blue line, and Eakins, who coached Fraser for parts of two seasons with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, told the team’s Twitter feed that it’s likely Fraser will be in the lineup against a big and physical Bruins team.