EDMONTON, AB - Boston enters Edmonton as one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League, sitting third in overall standings with a 36-13-8 record and 80 points.
The visiting Bruins haven't lost more than five games in a month since November when they went 7-5-1, compiling a stat line of 25-5-4 since that time.
"They've had a really strong season," said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. "You look at their roster all the way through, even the guys playing in their first year, they have a bunch of difference-makers."
Despite Boston's exemplary play, the Oilers have defeated the club in each of their past six games, going 0-3-3 during that time.
"It's a great challenge," continued Nurse. "They play fast and you can't make many mistakes against them or they'll make you play."
FIRST TO FIND TWINE
The Bruins are 23-1-5 when scoring first, 17-1-2 when leading after the opening frame and 26-0-2 when up after 40 minutes. The Oilers gave Boston their single blemish this season.
David Pastrnak tallied at 14:03 of the first period when Edmonton visited Boston earlier in the season. The Oilers came back to hand the B's a 4-2 loss.
"Our starts have to be better, I think everyone is well-aware of that," said Nurse. "Especially against a team like this, any time they get someone in the hole, they make you pay and they're able to close out games."
The Oilers haven't opened the scoring since Feb. 5, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In two games versus the Bruins last season, Patrick Maroon scored five goals. The winger added another one in the meeting with Beantown this year, giving him six markers in his last three when facing Boston.
"When I was in Anaheim, I'd always score against LA," said Maroon. "Guys find their team and find their knack. Obviously, I've had success against Boston and hopefully, I can continue that success."
Not only that, but he's also tussled with 6-foot-9 defenceman Zdeno Chara in the past and maintains the two have a mutual regard for one another despite the pain they've inflicted.
"Big Z is a well-respected man in this League," said Maroon. "When I got hit twice in the head, I've never been hit that hard in my life. It's the kind of game I like because he engages with the big guys."
All-time against Boston, Maroon has seven goals and nine points in eight games.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins skated with the Oilers for the first time since his rib injury Tuesday. Andrej Sekera also practiced with the club.
Nugent-Hopkins won't return until March, said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. Sekera, meanwhile, could see game action Thursday versus the Avalanche - and if not - on the Oilers upcoming three-game road trip.
Nurse - Larsson Klefbom - Russell Davidson - Benning
-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com
OILERS (24-30-4) vs. BRUINS (36-13-8)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet West
This is the second of two meetings this season between the Oilers and Bruins. The Oilers took the first game 4-2 back on November 26, in Boston.
Patrick Maroon, Adam Larsson, Ryan Strome, and Leon Draisaitl each scored in that game, with Cam Talbot stopping 23 of 25 shots.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers put an end to their six-game losing streak on Sunday in Denver, downing the Avalanche 4-2.
They trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in that game, with Connor McDavid leading the comeback with three goals. Ryan Strome scored his first goal since December 23.
Edmonton will host the Bruins and then the Avalanche on Thursday, before heading back on the road for three games in California.
Bruins team scope:
The Bruins are coming off a 2-1 overtime win against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Brad Marchand scored the winner at 3:36 of OT to lift Boston to victory.
The Bruins have won 12 of their last 16 games. They are in the midst of a five-game road trip, which will conclude in Toronto and Buffalo this weekend.
By the Numbers:
Connor McDavid leads the Oilers in scoring with 69 points (26-43-69) in 58 games. He is coming off his third hat-trick of the season. Leon Draisaitl is second on the team in scoring with 52 points (17-35-52) in 54 games.
Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in scoring with 55 points (22-33-55) in 44 games this season.
OILERS - R. Nugent-Hopkins (upper body) is on IR, A. Sekera (facial injury) is on IR, A. Montoya (upper body) is day-to-day
BRUINS - A. Bjork (upper body) is on IR, K. Miller (upper body) is day-to-day, F. Vatrano (lower body) is on IR