EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Boston Bruins barely had enough gas to make it to the finish line, but they still managed to get there two goals faster than the Edmonton Oilers.
The injured and flu-stricken Bruins were seriously short-staffed when they arrived in Edmonton, but summoned enough energy to build a 3-0 lead and cling to it for dear life, and the final 40 minutes of a 4-2 victory at Rexall Place.
But a game between the first place team in the East (Boston is 22-8-2) and last place in the West (the Oilers are 11-19-3) wasn't the blowout many predicted.
The Oilers fought back to make it 3-2 after 40 minutes and pressed furiously in the third, out-shooting Boston 11-2 at one point, but couldn't complete the last step of the comeback. It wasn't over until right winger Jarome Iginla sealed it into an empty net with 44 seconds left in the game.
After going 7-3-1 in their previous 11 starts, the Oilers were anxious to see how they stood up against one of the better teams in the NHL.
They didn't like the answer much in the first period, as Boston scored three goals in less than eight minutes to put the home team in an early hole.
The Bruins opened with a lucky one, defenceman Dennis Seidenberg's floater from the blue line at 10:25, made it 2-0 on a bullet of a one-timer from Iginla at 16:11 and took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission when right winger Brad Marchand scored short-handed at 18:17.
The Oilers have given up a league-leading seven short-handed goals this season.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk got the hook during the first intermission, leaving back-up Jason LaBarbera to mop up the final 40 minutes.
Edmonton fought back hard in the second period, led by left winger winger David Perron, who has been the heart and soul of Edmonton's recent surge.
Perron closed the gap to 3-1 at 3:25 and made it a one-goal game with his second of the night at 17:27 to set up the third period drama.
NOTES: The Bruins, already weakened by the flu when they arrived in Edmonton, were minus five forwards to injury or suspension. Marc Savard (concussion), LW Chris Kelly (ankle), LW Daniel Paille (upper body), RW Loui Eriksson (concussion) and LW Shawn Thornton (suspension) were out. The blue line was also hurting, with D Adam McQuaid (lower body) and D Doug Hamilton (lower body) out. ... With G Tuukka Rask down with the flu, the Bruins called in a goalie from the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team to help out in practice Wednesday. ... Oilers D Jeff Petry passed all of his concussion tests and returned the lineup after getting rocked last Saturday against Calgary. ... LW Ryan Smyth, who'd been playing his best hockey in years, missed his second straight game with a pinched nerve in his neck. ... Oilers G Devan Dubnyk has appeared in 17 of the last 18 games.