If they beat the Edmonton Oilers and the right things broke their way, the Boston Bruins could have clinched a playoff spot on Thursday. Instead, the Oilers surged back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Bruins 3-2, ending Boston’s winning streak at 10 games and postponing their postseason qualification.
This marks the first time this season that the Bruins lost in regulation after building a first-period lead. Boston hadn’t lost at all since dropping a 2-1 decision to the Capitals on Feb. 11.
Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scored two goals in the opening frame, but the Oilers wouldn’t go away. Impressively, Edmonton beat Boston despite Connor McDavid being held off the scoresheet. Evan Bouchard collected the only goal of the second period on a broken play and Ryan McLeod tied things up in the third period. Darnell Nurse notched the game-winner with less than five minutes remaining to complete the comeback.
Oilers gearing up for playoffs, Bruins could still make history
On paper, the Oilers have faced a pretty tough schedule, so their recent strong play (two straight wins, victories in four out of five) inspires some real optimism. During that five-game span, they beat the Maple Leafs, Sabres, split two meetings with the Jets, and now own this win over the Bruins. With the rest of the Pacific Division also heating up, the Oilers may not be able to make it into the top three, but their grip is strengthening on the top wild-card spot with 80 points in 66 games played.
Stranger things have happened, but it sure looks like Edmonton will make the playoffs, so they can aim at fine-tuning as much as anything else.
Naturally, it’s not the end of the world for the Bruins. While they would’ve needed some dominoes to fall to clinch a playoff spot on Thursday, it’s just a matter of time before they lock up just about everything, including the Presidents’ Trophy. From a regular season perspective, they’re mostly just chasing history.
For instance, they can still become the fastest team to 50 wins in a regular season. Back in 2018-19, the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings by winning 50 of 66 games played. The Bruins could set that record if they win one of two games in a back-to-back weekend set against Detroit. Failing that, the Bruins could tie the mark by beating the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.
So, the Oilers spoiled the party a bit for the Bruins, but this game might be most interesting if these two teams manage to meet again in the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. That’s not such an outrageous thought considering how strong both teams look after the trade deadline.