BOSTON - Defense has not been the Bruins' problem for the majority of this season. They have consistently ranked in the top 10 in goals allowed and have played a sturdy, reliable game in their own end.
Such was not the case on Thursday evening against the high-powered Edmonton Oilers. Boston carried play for long stretches of the game and allowed just 25 shots, but four costly missteps were too much to overcome in a 4-3 loss to the Oilers at TD Garden.
"A wasted good effort, because I thought we played hard, we played well, we had lots of chances, and we didn't give them much," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "Every breakdown we seemed to have ends up in the back of our net. So, those are frustrating nights, they're frustrating losses, especially when you need to win.
"We were the better team, there's no questions there. We just gave them too many gifts."
Video: Chara discusses Bruins' 4-3 loss to Oilers
The Bruins also struggled once again at the start. Boston allowed two goals within the first minute of a period, including Patrick Maroon's first of three tallies just 1:08 into the contest. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins then gave Edmonton a 3-2 lead just 14 seconds into the third.
"Especially in the third, I thought. It's tough to get that goal, and especially after having a pretty good second period," said Patrice Bergeron. "It definitely sucks the momentum out of you and, after that, we were kind of scrambling to get back in the game and that can't happen."
Maroon finished off his hat trick at 9:02 of the final frame to put the Oilers up, 4-2. David Krejci potted a power-play tally with two seconds remaining on a 5-on-3 and 2:56 to go in the game to pull the Bruins within a goal. And the Bruins generated a number of golden opportunities in the final minutes, but Boston couldn't find the equalizer.
Video: EDM@BOS: Krejci hammers rebound past Talbot for PPG
"When you don't get the result, you're definitely not happy with anything," said Bergeron. "It's definitely frustrating to see what's going on and to have the type of game that we had tonight. I though we had a lot of good looks and a lot of good zone-time.
"But then, the breakdowns that we're giving up shouldn't happen and it's been happening a lot, especially lately, and it's been hurting us."
After Edmonton started the scoring, the Bruins did storm back to take a 2-1 lead behind a spark from captain Zdeno Chara, who dropped the gloves with Maroon just two minutes after the Edmonton forward's opening tally.
Colin Miller knotted things at 1 when he fired a shot from the point that bounced off an Edmonton defenseman out front and just trickled by Oilers goalie Cam Talbot at 7:16 of the first. Patrice Bergeron followed up with his third goal in four games to put Boston ahead, 2-1, midway through the second period. Kevan Miller assisted on Bergeron's goal for his first point of the season.
"I think he did," Bergeron said when asked if Chara jumpstarted the Bruins. "That's what he is. He's a leader, he's a captain, and he definitely does that for us. I thought he gave us some life after that goal early in the period and I thought we went on to get a pretty good rest of the period after that."
Video: Bergeron discusses Bruins' 4-3 loss to Oilers
But Maroon responded with his second of the night just under three minutes later, setting the stage for two more Edmonton goals to put the Oilers up for good.
"I think we're the only ones that can really find the answer and turn this around," said Bergeron. "It's up to this dressing room to do it and to look at ourselves in the mirror - I said that before - and be better.
"You can't wait for anyone to do it. It's up to us. We're the ones that are playing on the ice and we have to be better."
Bruins Honor Schmidt
The Bruins held a pregame ceremony to honor Milt Schmidt, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 98. Schmidt's No. 15 was displayed on the ice behind each goal and his retired number banner was lowered towards the ice while a spotlight shined upon it.
A "moment of celebration" was held to kick off the ceremony, with the TD Garden crowd delivering a standing ovation. A video tribute, laced with Frank Sinatra's "Young At Heart," featured remembrances from fellow Bruins legends Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith, Ken Hodge, Harry Sinden, and Ed Westfall.
The Bruins also donned commemorative "15" patches on their jerseys. The patches will remain for the rest of the 2016-17 season.
"He's still a huge legend," Krejci said following the Bruins' loss. "He's done so much for this organization…he's been going in the dressing room a few times a year to wish us good luck. It would've been nice to get the W for him."
Video: Bruins legends share memories of Milt Schmidt
Backes Still Sidelined
David Backes participated in the morning skate, but did not feel ready to suit up for game action, as he recovers from a concussion suffered Dec. 29 in Buffalo. The winger, who missed his third straight game, said he is "hopeful" he can play on Saturday in Florida….John-Michael Liles, out since late November with a concussion, also took part in the morning skate, while Matt Beleskey, out with a knee injury, skated on his own before practice.