Staying up late to watch bad hockey, especially when you're running on two hours of sleep, is never fun. So, at least the Bruins bailed me out on that end.
Someone lit a fuse under Jimmy Hayes, and he responded. In fact, the entire third line - Chris Kelly, Ryan Spooner and Hayes - played their strongest game of the season. Hayes finished with a career-high 4 points, including his first goal as a Bruin 8:11 into the opening frame.
Kevan Miller, a thought-to-be disaster waiting to happen alongside Zdeno Chara on the B's top defense pairing, opened the scoring 5:49 into the first period. Miller, who hasn't scored since January 29, 2015 against the New York Islanders, started what would be a night of unexpected performances.
For Miller, the University of Vermont alum, offensive highlights are a rarity, but an entire night of offensive competence is some next-level otherworldly stuff. It's not supposed to happen, especially when he's dressing for a team that has allowed 16 goals in its first three games.
Miller's offensive explosion was matched by fellow stay-at-home-type Adam McQuaid, making this edition of "The Bruins play some hockey in Denver - a city with a creepy airport" all that more confusing. McQuaid had a strong shift in the second period, feeding Loui Eriksson for a goal-front chance that was ultimately shunned by Colorado netminder Semyon Varlamov. Julien kept McQuaid on the ice for the ensuing faceoff, won by Joonas Kemppainen, and the move paid dividends; Tyler Randell tipped a McQuaid wrister home for his first NHL goal. Randell, the B's 6th round pick in 2009 (176th overall), was a +2 in his NHL debut.
Randell's goal served as the catalyst for what would become a second period drastically contrasting what Boston has produced in the middle frame over the past 12 months. Hayes and Ryan Spooner combined for a beautiful setup on Chris Kelly's first goal on the year. Spooner responded with his first 6:02 later, as Hayes forced a turnover in the Colorado end and saucered a nifty backhand pass to Spooner, creeping in on Varlamov's glove-side, snapping it past the hopeless goalie.
Gabriel Landeskog added a powerplay goal for the Avalanche with 1:29 remaining the second period. David Pastrnak was in the box for a high-sticking double-minor. Ho hum, mistakes happen. The Bruins were able to kill-off the second of the two penalties, which carried over into the beginning of the third period.
John Mitchell squeezed a softy through the five-hole of Bruins starter Jonas Gustavsson midway through the final frame. Gustavsson finished his Bruins debut with 16 saves on 18 shots. There isn't a goalie controversy, so don't even go there please. Gustavsson made some key saves early, but seemed to fight the puck as the game wore on. Again, he's not supplanting Rask as the starter. Don't call into your local sports talk station tomorrow and suggest that he is.
A David Krejci empty netter with 1:29 remaining sealed the deal. Krejci has a team-high 6 points through the first four games.
Former Boston College Eagles defenseman and Bruins 2008 second round pick (35th overall), Tommy Cross, played 13:45 in his NHL debut.
The Bruins return to action on Saturday night, continuing their west coast swing with a visit to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale.