Inconsistency has plagued the Boston Bruins so far this season, but they've been just about as steady as a team can get against the Edmonton Oilers in recent years.
After again falling short of a second straight victory, the Bruins look to extend a seven-game winning streak against the visiting Oilers on Saturday afternoon.
Boston (5-5-1) lost 2-1 to New Jersey on Thursday night, failing to record a point for the second time in six games (3-2-1). The Bruins have alternated wins and losses since dropping their season opener 4-1 to Washington on Oct. 1.
"We are never happy with losing games," defenseman Derek Morris said.
That hasn't been a problem against Edmonton (7-5-1). The Bruins have won seven straight versus the Oilers since a 6-1 road loss Oct. 17, 2000.
Boston has held Edmonton to 11 goals during that span, killing 31 of 34 penalties. The Bruins won 1-0 on the road Oct. 27, 2008, in the only matchup last season.
Tim Thomas has struggled at times this season, going 4-4-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average, but he has shutouts in two straight meetings with the Oilers and is 3-0-0 with a 0.93 GAA in three career games against them.
Thomas stopped 29 shots against the Devils, but Boston struggled offensively.
Patrice Bergeron had the only goal, giving him points in five of his last seven games (three goals, three assists). The veteran center appears to be finally settling down after suffering a severe concussion two years ago.
Bergeron missed 72 games in 2007-08 and was limited to eight goals last season after averaging 23 in his first three years in the league.
"He has been our best forward, by far," coach Claude Julien told the Bruins' official Web site. "When you talk about ups and downs and everything else, he has been as consistent as you could ever ask. He's having a great year. He's playing extremely well."
Marco Sturm and Zdeno Chara assisted on Bergeron's goal Thursday. Sturm hasn't scored in eight straight games but has an assist in each of his last three.
Chara has not scored in 11 games. He didn't find the back of the net in his first 12 games last season but finished with a career-high 19 goals.
Edmonton was shut out in two straight games before beating Detroit 6-5 in a shootout Thursday night. Patrick O'Sullivan scored the decisive goal after the Oilers blew a 5-1 lead.
After being held to two goals or fewer in four of five games, Edmonton got strong performances from an array of players.
Ales Hemsky had two goals and an assist, and linemate Dustin Penner had his ninth goal of the season along with three assists. Shawn Horcoff added a goal and two assists after being held off the scoresheet in his previous seven games.
"It was nice," Horcoff said. "Penner and Hemmer have been playing at such a high level, it's been outstanding. I'd been trying to stay positive."
Penner continues to play well for the Oilers, posting 10 assists to go along with his team-high nine goals. He had 17 goals and 20 assists in 78 games last season.