'We played not to lose': Browbeaten Oilers defeated 3-2 in Bruins comeback

Cam Talbot lay on his belly for several seconds, facing his own net.

'The difference between the two teams was, they played to win,' says Oilers coach Todd McLellan

Edmonton Oilers' Milan Lucic (27) reacts to a call from the referee while playing against the Boston Bruins during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Tuesday. (The Canadian Press/Jason Franson)

Cam Talbot lay on his belly for several seconds, facing his own net.

From that vantage point, he had the best view in the house of the puck that had just tied the score in a game that probably had no business being tied in the first place.

Body language suggested the Edmonton Oilers goalie was exhausted, heart-sick. Playing his best game of the season, he had backstopped his team to an improbable 2-0 lead after two periods, only to allow the surging Boston Bruins to fight their way back.

From that point, the Oilers hung on until just over a minute left. Then, the visiting team scored one last time to complete the comeback and skate off with a 3-2 victory.

"I'm still at a loss right now," Talbot said after the game. "A two-nothing lead going into the third. We knew they were going to come."

Come they did. And when they did, the Oilers had no answers.

'We played to not lose'

"The difference between the two teams was, they played to win," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said, "and we played to not lose in the third."

The early omens Tuesday at Rogers Place looked bad for the Oilers.

In the first 15 minutes, the Oilers managed just two shots on goal, and both came from defenceman Kris Russell. They also drew the game's first penalty, when Drake Caggiula got sent off for slashing.

But the Oilers got through that one unscathed.

Late in the first, it looked like the penalties might even up.

Just inside the Oilers blue line, Bruins defenceman Torey Krug chopped down on the back of Brandon Davidson's leg. The Oilers d-man went down to one knee.

Krug got whistled for slashing. Davidson joined him in the penalty box, two minutes for embellishment.

The teams were four-on-four when Ryan Strome took a lead pass, closed to the top of the circle and managed the Oilers' third shot on goal. His wrist shot beat Anton Khudobin low on the glove side.
David Krejci provided the dagger to the heart of the Edmonton Oilers who let a 2-0 lead evaporate in the third period to lose 3-2 to the Boston Bruins. 0:26
Outshot 13-3 in the period, the Oilers emerged with a one-goal lead.

A minute into the second period, Talbot fired the puck over the boards. The delay-of-game call put the Oilers back on the penalty kill.

Again, they held on and the score remained tied.

Midway through the second, the Oilers still had only nine shots.

That's when Anton Slepyshev crossed the blue line with the puck and some open space in front of him. Instead of shooting, he passed to a teammate in a far worse scoring position.

The puck hit Jujhar Khaira in the skates. He kicked it up to his stick and let go a shot from the high slot that beat Khudobin to put the Oilers up 2-0.

Over two periods, the Oilers were down 29-14 on the shot clock and up 2-0 on the scoreboard. Talbot was the biggest reason for that.

Another reason was the Oilers penalty kill, which finally lived up to its name. The Bruins had three power plays over the first two periods.

Each time, the worst home-ice penalty kill in league history buckled down and refused to surrender a goal. Boston created scoring chances with the man advantage, but Talbot stopped them all.

He made another huge save early in the third period to preserve the two-goal lead.

The Bruins finally scored four minutes into the period. It took a lucky bounce for them to get one past Talbot.

Noel Acciari circled the net and tried a wrap-around, but Talbot was there in plenty of time to cover the post. The puck went off Ryan Strome's skate in front and bounced into the net.

The comeback was on.

Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk scored the tying goal midway through the period, and David Krejci finished the Oilers off with a minute left in the game. By the final buzzer, the Oilers had been outshot 45-20.

The Oilers have now lost eight of their last 10 games to put the playoffs well out of reach. They play Colorado at home on Thursday then go back on the road for three games in California.

The NHL trade deadline is Monday. Oilers fans can expect to see movement from a team that will be a seller not a buyer.

About the Author

Rick McConnell

Rick McConnell has a boxful of journalism awards buried somewhere in his basement. He covers the Oilers and toils as a copy editor for CBC Edmonton.