Wednesday night’s game started out with the perfect story line: a battle of the best first lines in the National Hockey League. Both the Bruins and Avalanche have the same makeup. Each team has one dominant line followed by lackluster depth. All eyes were on Patrice Bergeron, Nathan MacKinnon, and their linemates.
The first period started out with great pace. Almost 6 minutes elapsed before the first whistle was blown. With 9:44 left in the first period Zdeno Chara turned the puck over to Mikko Rantanen behind the Bruins’ net. Gabriel Landeskog took advantage of the opportunity and put the Avs on the board first.
A short time later, the Bruins would go to the powerplay thanks to Mark Barberio. After the first unit failed to score, the second unit came on for the Bruins. However, David Pastrnak stayed on the ice. He would eventually put a puck in the back of the net courtesy of David Backes. That was Backes’ first point of the season.
With the game tied and less than a minute to go in the first period, Jake DeBrusk had a breakaway opportunity. He took advantage of the opportunity and scored his sixth goal of the season, giving the Bruins a 2-1 lead heading into the locker room.
As the Bruins came out for the second period, they would be without their captain. Zdeno Chara left the game after colliding awkwardly with Carl Soderberg in the first. It was ruled a lower body injury and did not return.
Although they were a man down, the Bruins would receive an early powerplay opportunity. The Bruins struggled to create zone time for the majority of the two minutes, but Jake DeBrusk was able to deflect a shot from Pastrnak in the closing seconds of the powerplay to put the Bruins up 3-1.
Midway through the second period, David Pastrnak took a penalty which sent Colorado to the powerplay for the first time. The Avalanche took 55 seconds to score as Mikko Rantanen was able to pull the Avs to within one. The Avalanche would go on to dominate the remainder of the period, but couldn’t get another goal before heading to the locker rooms.
It didn’t take long for the Avs to tie the game up when they came out for the third period. Matt Calvert was credited with an awkward goal 2:11 into the final frame. Nathan MacKinnon would then put the Avs ahead with a goal 6:51 later, changing the mood of the entire game.
With 6:20 left, David Krejci took a questionable holding penalty. The Avs managed to take the entire two minutes in order to score another powerplay goal and give themselves a 5-3 lead.
Bruce Cassidy went ahead and emptied the net at that point. The Bruins were able to create sustained zone time and a few good chances, but Patrice Bergeron took a penalty with 1:03 left, essentially ending the game for good. The Avs would score on the ensuing powerplay for a 6-3 final score.
With Chara going down in the first, Torey Krug, Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, and John Moore were forced to step up and play over 20 minutes each. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there was no match for the firepower of Rantanen, MacKinnion, and Landeskog. The Avalanche controlled the majority of the second half, struggling to enter the Avalanche zone with control, or sustaining zone time.
Thanks to the scheduling rules put in place after the last lockout, we will be able to see this matchup again, February 10 at TD Garden. Hopefully the Bruins will have a healthier roster for that game. The Bruins will take on the Dallas Star Saturday.