BostonBruins.com - Three games in four nights on a quick trip to Western Canada is not an easy sequence.
The Bruins passed the first two tests in Vancouver and Calgary on Monday and Wednesday, thanks to 6-3 and 5-2 victories, with the latter win snapping the hottest team in the NHL's 10-game win streak.
In both games, the Black & Gold came up with strong third periods.
By the time the final frame came around on Thursday night in Edmonton, the Bruins were staring at a three-goal deficit that ended in a 7-4 loss to the Oilers.
It was something fairly unfamiliar to them.
In their previous 15 games, they had gone 12-3-0 with Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy taking over behind the bench.
They had posted a 2.13 goals-against average during that span, versus a 2.64 goals-against average in the 55 games prior to the coaching change.
To say Thursday night was an anomaly is not inaccurate. The Bruins hadn't allowed seven goals all season. The most they had allowed during their 15-game stretch had been five, which came from a 5-3 loss in Anaheim on Feb. 22 that included an empty-netter.
Still, there was no talk of any excuses - there was no blaming fatigue, mental or physical. There was no blaming it on a back-to-back.
"I think it was just an awful game by everyone, and it's just proof that you can't rely on what we've been doing lately," Patrice Bergeron said postgame. "Every night is going to be a tough night and we knew it was going to be a fast paced game, and that's what they gave us."
The game didn't start off well for the Bruins, with their opponent striking first for the second straight night. Patrick Maroon quickly made it 2-0 with two goals in 59 seconds by the time the clock hit 5:28 into the opening frame.
Benoit Pouliot made it 3-0 there minutes later, at 8:23 into the first.
"Too many breakdowns defensively," said Bergeron. "You get down by three goals early on, so definitely hard to catch up from there. I think our D zone coverage was nowhere to be found, and they took advantage of that."
The Black & Gold refused to give in to their heavy legs.
On a power play opportunity in the first, David Pastrnak fired in goal No. 31 on the season, assisted by Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner.
Marchand made it a one-goal game with 2:16 to go in the first, with the Oilers having the slight 3-2 edge.
Video: BOS@EDM: Marchand nets Bergeron's smooth feed
A late goal from Anton Slephyshev that slid through Tuukka Rask at the end of the first with 51 seconds to go gave Edmonton a 4-2 lead. Rask remained in goal to start the second.
Edmonton net their second power play goal of the game to make it 5-2 early in the frame.
The goal came after the Bruins were whistled for too many men. It ended Rask's night. He finished with five goals on 17 shots. Anton Khudobin took over in relief, after picking up the win in Calgary the night before.
"Well, we wanted Tuukka to allow him to play through it," said Cassidy. "Anton played [Wednesday] night, Tuukka was certainly rested, and it's a 4-2 game. I thought our team had enough in us to fight back and get in the game, so we wanted Tuukka to have that opportunity, and it didn't happen, plain and simple."
Dominic Moore brought the Bruins within two with a shorthanded goal at 4:17 into the period, but Leon Draisaitl made it 6-3 two and half minutes later.
The Oilers extended the lead to 7-3, when a shot ricocheted off Milan Lucic's skate and into the net for a power play goal. Edmonton finished the night 3-for-6 on the man advantage.
The Bruins' penalty kill - ranked first in the NHL entering the night - was coming off one of its best nights on Wednesday, having thwarted the Flames' power play and not even allowing a shot on goal.
"If you've followed our team this year, we're a disciplined hockey club," said Cassidy. "We're like anybody else, we'll have some times where we take a couple in a row, but generally speaking, we're a disciplined hockey club, so that was abnormal, whether they were all merited or not."
Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid both dropped the gloves in the first period, and frustration from the Bruins was displayed throughout the game.
"We showed pushback, we got behind, guys were ornery," said Cassidy. "It's our third in four games, we want to play hard - we always do - and some of them resulted in penalties."
David Krejci scored during a 5-on-3 power play late in the second period and the Bruins started the third period with time on the man advantage, but they couldn't cash in and rally back.
The 7-4 score was one three-goal deficit that they could not climb out of, despite never giving up, and Cassidy pulling Khudonin for the extra attacker late in the game.
"You keep falling behind 3-0 - we're going to continue to fight back and battle back - but you can only do it for so long and they kept regaining the lead and we weren't able to overcome it," said Torey Krug.
"Our team can score goals, so why not [pull the goalie]?" said Cassidy. "We're going to try to play the situation in front of us, and that's what we tried to do, and it didn't work out. We clearly were hoping maybe to get one and it snowballs."
The Bruins will now have two days off on Friday and Saturday to recover before getting back on the ice Sunday and hitting the road to Toronto for a big Monday night matchup with the Maple Leafs.
"We alway review the games, no matter what, if we lose, and I think we've got a couple days off here," said Rask. "But when we get together next time we're going to watch some video and see some things we did wrong, and maybe some things we find that we did right, and that's just the nature of how we do things, and that doesn't change."
Rest assured, when the Bruins are back in action on Monday, they'll be a sharper hockey club.
"You have to realize that every game, every night, every team, you have to show up, you have to be good, and you can't rely on the success we've had lately," said Bergeron. "And hopefully we realize that, and we move forward."
Matt Beleskey took a puck to the face on Thursday night, with 11 seconds left in the game.
Cassidy didn't have an immediate update on him following the game.
"He's a hard-nosed kid, and hopefully he's all right. That's very unfortunate for him," said Cassidy. "Hopefully he's going to be fine, I hope, but I don't have an update."
Beleskey sent out a tweet before the Bruins took off for Edmonton, thanking fans for all of the well wishes.
Cehlarik, Czarnik Assigned
Forwards Peter Cehlarik and Austin Czarnik were assigned to the Providence Bruins on Thursday.
While the big club has two days off, the Providence Bruins play three games in three days on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Both Cehlarik and Czarnik were healthy scratches for Thursday's game in Edmonton.