EDMONTON, AB - Edmonton got off to a fast start and put the pedal to the metal offensively, getting a 7-4 victory over the visiting Boston Bruins, and snapping their four-game win streak, in a wild one.
The Oilers celebrated St. Patrick Maroon's Day on St. Patrick's Day eve, as the big winger potted his 23rd goal of the season to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 4:29 of the first. Jordan Eberle slipped a cross-ice feed to Maroon backdoor and the winger shot it past Tuukka Rask, on the power play. Andrej Sekera recorded the second assist.
The celebrations continued when Maroon made it a 2-0 game with his 24th just 59 seconds later. Leon Draisaitl flipped the puck to Connor McDavid in front of the net and the captain deftly batted it down and quickly backhanded a centring pass to Maroon in the slot. Maroon fired it past Rask to tie McDavid for the team lead in goals.
"We had a really good start, and we talked about that," said Maroon. "The guys came here and they played hard. The first 20 minutes were really strong for us."
Maroon has been the Bruins killer for Edmonton this year, after recording a hat trick in their previous meeting and then two goals in this one.
"I don't know what it is about the Bruins. I find ways to score against them," Maroon said. "It's good news for me, I guess, when I play the Bruins."
Edmonton's third line kept their recent hot streak alive and gave the club a 3-0 lead at 8:23 of the first frame. Benoit Pouliot scored his second in as many games, getting a stick on a David Desharnais pass, while down on the ice in the slot. Darnell Nurse got the second assist.
"Pou is getting his confidence back," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "Davy is comfortable here now, he's understanding how we want to play and he fits our group well. And (Zack Kassian) is speed and physicality. The three ingredients make a pretty good line."
Midway through the first, Maroon was involved in an altercation with Zdeno Chara. Both players got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. Maroon had thrown a few big hits ahead of that small tussle. Maroon was a marked man, following his big start and would drop the gloves later in the contest.
With Draisaitl in the box for tripping, Bruins forward David Pastrnak scored on the power play at 12:29 of the first to cut the Oilers lead back to two. Brad Marchand and Ryan Spooner each tallied an assist.
Marchand scored his fifth goal in his last three games at 17:44 of the first, assisted by Torey Krug and Chara. Krug found Marchand uncovered backdoor, and the NHL's leading goal scorer made no mistake, burying his 37th.
Maroon's busy night continued with 1:23 left in the first when he dropped the gloves to tango with Adam McQuaid, who had hit Maroon hard in the corner from behind.
With 50.2 seconds left on the clock in the first, the wild period got wilder. McDavid shot the puck on Rask from behind the net and Anton Slepyshev batted it in out of the air as it rebounded off the goalie.
Aton Khudobin replaced Rask between the pipes for the second period, but that didn't stop Edmonton's offence train from rolling.
Edmonton took advantage of a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 2:06 of the second period to score their fifth of the night. On the power play, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins buried his 15th goal of the season, assisted by Drake Caggiula and Eberle.
Boston managed to respond with a shorthanded goal at 4:17 of the middle frame. Dominic Moore backhanded a top-shelf shot from a wide angle to make it a 5-2 score.
Goal six for Edmonton came at 6:46 of the second. Draisaitl crossed the blueline and drew in the Bruins defenders. Rather than pass, the forward picked his spot and fired a short-side snipe to tie Maroon and McDavid with 24 goals this season.
With the goal, Draisaitl surpassed former Bruin Marco Sturm for the most points ever in a season by a player from Germany.
For the second game in a row, the Oilers got to seven goals. Their seventh came with David Krejci in the box for an ill-advised attempted high hit on Eberle. Milan Lucic redirected the puck in off his skate to make it a 7-3 affair. McDavid and Draisaitl each added a helper.
That goal meant Edmonton has scored seven goals in back-to-back home games for the first time since December of 1988.
"Guys can feel good about themselves and feel real positive moving forward down the stretch," McDavid said of the spread out scoring. "It's important guys are feeling good and confident. These past two games have done that for some guys."
A 5-on-3 power play allowed the Bruins to claw their way to their fourth goal of the night. Krejci hammered a one-timer past Cam Talbot to make it 7-4 and avenge his earlier mistake. Marchand recorded an assist on the goal as he and McDavid continued to slug it out in the NHL scoring race. Both had three points, giving them each 79.
Maroon tried for the hat trick with 32 seconds remaining in the game, firing a shot a long way down the ice and missing the empty net wide. Although he wouldn't get the hat trick, Maroon would earn first star honours for his big night.
"Someone needs to teach me how to shoot on the empty net, because I'm certainly not (usually) out there when the empty net is out there," laughed Maroon. "It's something new for me."
Edmonton has now won two straight games by a combined score of 14-5. They put their momentum to the test Saturday against the Vancouver Canucks at 8 PM MDT.