Oilers rediscovering form after pair of offensive outbursts

Patrick Maroon scored twice, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and Connor McDavid added three assists as the Edmonton Oilers beat up on the Boston Bruins 7-4 on Thursday night.

While the Calgary Flames were on fire, winning 10 straight games, the Edmonton Oilers were scuffling along at a .500 pace, in search of a calibre of game they had lost weeks before.

After a pair of seven-goal victories in their past two games — most recently, Thursday’s 7-4 win over the red hot Boston Bruins — you wonder if what was lost in Edmonton has suddenly been found?

The Oilers blasted three power-play goals past the best penalty kill in the National Hockey League, leap-frogging the idle Flames in the process. After getting goals from seven players in a 7-1 win over Dallas on Tuesday, six different Oilers scored against Boston, as the Oilers chased the opponent’s starting goalie for the second time in as many games. The last time the Oilers scored seven goals in back-to-back home games was in December of 1988.

“We’ve put back-to-back seven spots up and that doesn’t happen very often,” said head coach Todd McLellan, who watched Patrick Maroon get an early start on St. Patrick’s Day celebrations by scoring twice.

It was his fourth and fifth goals against Boston this season in the two meetings between the teams, both Oiler wins.

“I don’t know what it is against the Bruins, but I find a way to score against them,” said Maroon, who also had a spirited scrap with Adam McQuaid. “We have four lines that are going. If it’s not the first two lines, the third and fourth lines are chipping away with huge goals. It’s good to see going down the stretch, that you have four lines that are dictating the play and can chip in some offence.”

For much of the season this has been a one-line team. That line — Connor McDavid between Maroon and Leon Draisaitl — has been good enough to carry the club through most of the season.

Lately however, the second line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (goals in two straight games), Milan Lucic (four points in three games) and Jordan Eberle (two assists Thursday) has become productive, as has the third line of David Desharnais between Benoit Pouliot and Zack Kassian.

With three lines scoring, this Oilers club could be a handful for whichever first-round opponent they draw.

“The chemistry is good, we’re finding each other. We know where we’re going,” said Pouliot, who has scored in consecutive games for the first time all season long. “Since I came back (from injury) the last four games, it’s been good. I’ve been working hard to be … in a better spot, and the guys I’m playing with, we’re finding each other, supporting each other.

“Davey is a hell of a passer, and me and Kass, we’re skating up and down (the wings) trying to make plays.”

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Everyone looks good on a seven-goal night, but this was a glimpse of the offence that can come when a world class player like McDavid (three assists) is supported by two more lines capable of producing. Boston, which came into the game at 12-3 under new coach Bruce Cassidy, wasn’t particularly sharp, but at times appeared overwhelmed defensively.

“The things we broke down on tonight, we generally do a good job on,” Cassidy said. “If you watched us for the first time, you’d probably say, ‘Geez, their slot coverage must be awful and their penalty kill must be awful.’ But it’s two of the best things in the league, they just happen to let us down tonight.”

On a night when Chicago’s Patrick Kane had one point in the Eastern time zone to break a three-way tie with McDavid and Brad Marchand atop the scoring race, Marchand and McDavid each answered with three points two hours later at Rogers Place. It was an intriguing head-to-head duel, one that McDavid admits he was keeping track of.

“Of course,” he said, “You’re out there, you pay attention. Especially when he’s making those kinds of plays. You know. You’re into the game. Whoever it is, you just know.”

Whoever these two Alberta teams are, whether they’re a team that can rip off 10 wins, or one that scores seven a night, it’s looking great for some springtime hockey in Alberta.

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