Playoff hockey four games into the season? Aight.
The Avalanche was greeted with the physicality of the Bruins from the initial puck drop, but they matched Boston hit for hit, shove for shove. A perfect example was Paul Stastny, who was getting mauled behind the net, double-teamed, but continuing to win the battles down low to maintain possession. But the home team got an early power play as Jaime McGuinn crashed the net hard, getting tossed into Tuuka Rask on his way. The refs determined Fatty could have stopped, however, so the Avs were forced to defend against the extra skater. A great chance for the Bruins came within the first minute when JS Giguere didn't see the puck laying in the crease with a wide open net tempting it to go home. Jan Hejda stepped in, though, to keep Boston off the board. The best scoring chance of that power play was a short-handed chance featuring Ryan O'Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon scooped up a puck at the top of the slot and carried it through center ice, showing off his speed. He dished the puck to O'Reilly who sent it right back. Mac was stopped only by a perfectly placed Tuuka toe.
The Avs took the energy of the kill and put up a lot of great pressure in the offensive zone. Unfortunately, it was thwarted as Steve Downie was cross-checked hard, a move that sent him sprawling to the ice where a screaming Hejda slap shot caught him in the arm. Scary moment as Crazy Eyes laid on the ice while play went the other way. Fortunately, he got back on his skates and, like The Man he is, finished his shift. There wasn't a call on the play.
The no call might have been a good thing, though, because Downie got mad, and you don't want to make him mad. The best moment for him that period was when he flattened Zdeno Chara behind the Bruins' net. Chara looked perplexed by the experience.
Tyson Barrie lost a step on a Bruins rush up the ice and was forced to take a holding penalty to prevent a scoring op. The Avs continued their perfect PK performance, not giving the Bruins much to look at.
Throughout the period, the Avs gave the Bruins fits with sustained pressure, using speed to negate Boston's strong backchecking. It frustrated the Beantowners, and Downie continued to be the focus of that frustration. Mid-way through the period, he was knocked down in front of the net long after the whistle. Chara got the two-minute sin bin visit for cross-checking, but Downie was handed an unsportsmanlike penalty for embellishment. Anyone else hate the matching calls on that? If it's a penalty on the cross-check, it's not a dive. If it's a dive, there shouldn't be a penalty on the cross-check. /rant over. Four-on-four hockey was totally dominated by the Bruins, forcing Jiggy to make some big saves.
To close out the period, Duchene drew a penalty with his snazzy moves, forcing David Krejci to hook him in an attempt to contain him. Unlike the three games prior to this one, the Avalanche worked the PP well and netted one! O'Reilly sent a perfect pass from the slot to Duchene, who was chilling all alone in the far side face off circle. Dutchy one-timed a slick pass up to Andre Benoit at the point. Balls was patient, cruising the blue line as he looked for the lane. Finding it, he sent a screaming wrister on net, and O'Reilly tipped the puck past Rask, hitting top shelf just under crossbar. Period wound down with the good guys up 1-0.
First period thought: MacKinnon is chomping at the bit for that first goal.
Giguere was tested early in the period, and unlike the first period, he was sharp and tracking the puck well. Avs got another power play opportunity as Johnny Boychuk was called for delay of game. While there was some good movement, there weren't a lot of impressive chances until PA Parenteau got got off a beauty of shot from his knees. (NTTAWWT) Immediately after that, Tyson Barrie negated a short-handed chance pretty impressively. Unlike the previous power play, though, this one came up empty.
Things got a little chippy behind the net half-way through the period. During the intermission interview, O'Reilly commented that the game had a playoff feel to it, especially because of moments like that. A huge hit by Patrick Bordeleau on Dennis Seidenberg resulted in Shawn Thornton challenging Bordy to drop the mitts. The fight really wasn't much of anything, though. Bordy got tied up in his jersey, so Thornton got more fists to the face. But Bordy's the one who drew blood.
It took 8 minutes for the Avalanche to get their first shot on net. Clearly, the Bruins made some adjustments for the second, successfully limiting the Avs speed some. Turning the game to a grind down low, the Bruins were the dominant team in the middle frame. Jiggy was the difference, absolutely robbing Patrice Bergeron with eight minutes to go.
With 6:39 left on the clock, the Avs were given their third power play chance of the game as Jordan Caron couldn't handle Adonis Gabe Landeskog and got the stick up around his middle. The power play was a bit better this time around as the Avs got some good puck movement and a few nice looks. Unfortunately, it ended just as the previous one did with no biscuits in the basket, keeping the score at 1-0 Avs.
The Bruins were clearly the better team in the second period, but heads up play by the Avs, solid goaltending by Giguere, and a good job of clearing loose pucks out from in front of the net kept Colorado in the game.
More fisticuffs went down with a minute left in the period as Milan Lucic decided to go after PA for some reason after the whistle. Landy stepped in to pull Lucic off of his buddy, which totally pissed off the Bruin. He got into Landy's face, pushing and shoving. The two continued to jaw at one another, with Lucic dropping gloves (Landy didn't bite), until the refs separated them. Lucic thought he needed to get the last jab in and pushed Landy one more time. Meanwhile, PA and Jarome Iginla were having their own shoving match. After a bunch of discussion by the refs, it all shook down like this: Landy and PA received matching roughing penalties with Lucic and Iginla. Lucic was handed an additional 10 minute misconduct, however, a pretty big loss for the Bruins. The period finished with a bit more shoving in front of the net but no goals.
Second period thought: Jiggy isn't over the hill, no matter what people on the DP boards say. The guy was the difference between being in the lead and playing catch up.
The Avs owned the first; the Bruins owned the second. The third was going to be the key for winning the game.
Early on it looked like it would be the Bruins again. An Avs turnover at the Bruins blueline caught the Avs unawares. Jiggy got the first save but let a juicy rebound skirt right up the slot, forcing him to make a point blank highlight reel save to keep the Avs ahead. In total Jiggy fashion, he was pissed about it all and smacked his stick on the ice in anger at himself. Oh, Jiggy, I heart you. Random thought: Jiggy's mask is H-O-T HOT this season.
Shortly thereafter, the fourth line had a great shift, keeping Boston hemmed in their own zone for over a minute. The effort seemed to shift the the momentum in the Avs direction, increasing the speed of the game which benefited the Avs. Roy obviously did some adjusting of his game plan during the intermission, though, which gave the Avs a chance to tilt the ice their way again. Like the first, you saw the speed this young team brings to the rink.
One of the most exciting plays of the night came when Cory Sarich grabbed a puck that was bouncing out of the Bruins' zone and sent it hard back to the boards behind Rask. The puck took a funny bounce, and Matt Duchene was right there to corral it. Doing his slick moves that Justin Bourne was raving about today, he drew a tripping penalty to put the Avs back on the power play for the fourth time on the night.
It didn't start out well as the Avs gave up a short-handed chance just seconds into the man advantage. The shortie bids didn't stop with the Bruins getting another one with a minute left on the PP. Downie nearly put the boys up by two with Rask's best save of the night, but the boys in burgundy didn't create many opportunities over the two minutes.
More calls were given for opposing hooking and embellishment. With PA and Loui Eriksson going to the box, four-on-four hockey ensued. Thirty-five seconds in, however, Landy got his stick up on Krejic to give himself two minutes for hooking. This resulted in a 4-on-3 situation for the Bruins. While the Avs were pinned in their own zone for the majority of the power plays, an incredibly solid PK and superb goaltending by Giguere kept the score at 1-0 yet again.
With four left in the third, the Avs looked tired. The physical battles in the game were clearly taking their toll. Smart play, though, helped ease the pain.
After the Bruins kept the boys in their zone for quite a while, Erik Johnson did some slick moves to send the puck the other way. PA brought the puck into the Bruins' zone and stayed patient to get a beautiful cross-ice pass to Duchene. A deflection off a Bruin leg sent the puck off the post on a gorgeous Dutchy shot. Duchene kept with it and had a dangerous wrap-around bid thwarted by a solid Rask. Hungry hungry hippo, that Dutchy.
With just over a minute left, Rask headed to the bench. 25 seconds remained when Duchene's disgustingly awesome speed allowed him to blow past both defenders to get the empty net goal, securing the fourth win in as many games on the season.
The unbeaten streak continues.
tl;dr version: Avs dominated the first with speed; Bruins dominated the second with strength; back and forth play in the third. Avs score on PP (O'Reilly tip), perfect on PK. Downie made guys mad. Landy didn't fight. Lucic got a ten-minute misconduct. Giguere was a god. Duchene is scary fast for empty netter. Avs win again.
MHH Three Stars
- JS Giguere
- Steve Downie
- Erik Johnson
O'Reilly - DucheneSLAP FIGHT!! - Downie
- Landeskog - Stastny -Tanguay
- McGinn - MacKinnon - Parenteau
- Bordeleau - Mitchell - McLeod
- The most saves Giguere has made in a shut out in his career at 39
- Giguere's 37th shutout in his career
- Avs ruined the Bruins 71-game streak where the they did not allow a shutout
- Avs are 10-for-10 on the penalty kill so far
The Avs head to the capitol to face the Capitals for a 7:00 Eastern tilt on Saturday.