The Boston Bruins did everything they could think of to try and come back on Wednesday night, chasing down a miserable 4-0 shutout loss at TD Garden to Colorado this past weekend.
Their best efforts still proved to fall short, though, as the Avalanche swept their home-and-away series against the Bruins with a 6-3 win on home ice.
Colorado came into their fourth game of the season riding high.
After opening up the year with a decent 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on the road, they stumbled their way to a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils over in Newark before heading up the coast to TD Garden.
There, they continued an almost comical trend of dominance against the Boston Bruins with a 4-0 shutout, solidly defeating their cross-country rivals before leading them back to Denver for the second game of a home-and-away series.
They opened up the game with a goal from the surprisingly-strong Alex Kerfoot, who managed to tip a Tyson Barrie shot from the point up and over Tuukka Rask’s back just over eight minutes into play.
The Avalanche would allow Boston to finally get on the board towards the end of the first frame, as Brad Marchand scored the first even-strength goal against Semyon Varlamov this season with his typical speed and flashy hands to tie the game at one.
The Avs have finally given up an even-strength goal and Brad Marchand is responsible pic.twitter.com/2tlVYyhdzC— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 12, 2017
While the third period would ultimately be more even-footed for both teams, the second period is handily what won Colorado the game.
After Marchand tied the score late in the first period, Boston would open up the second frame by allowing an absolute stinker to Nail Yakupov just one minute into play.
It’s a shrewd move by Nathan MacKinnon to pass, and Yakupov - who has been known to get a little excited at times and miss the net on what should be a shoo-in goal - manages to put the puck exactly where he needs to.
This goal potentially doesn’t get scored, though, if Tuukka Rask doesn’t falter in spectacular fashion:
WELCOME TO THE NAIL YAKUPOV REDEMPTION ARC pic.twitter.com/bnoQjZ5ZNe— megan (@meggo1532) October 12, 2017
Whether Rask doesn’t think Yakupov is capable of carrying through on the 2-on-1, thinks his defender will take care of any intercepting passes, or just doesn’t notice Yak there at all... it really doesn’t matter. Bottom line, the former Vezina winner stays skates-out of the blue paint until long-past the decision-making zone, opting for an overly-aggressive read focused almost purely on MacKinnon - who easily sends a pass flying across royal road before it cleanly finds the back of the net.
He makes a diving attempt to swipe at the puck with his glove, but the damage is done; while a successful save would have quickly made its way to every highlight reel known to man in the morning, he was too far out of position to do anything but pray for a miracle.
That didn’t come, and it would set the tone for the rest of the game.
Andrighetto would impress with a high glove-side shot on the man advantage a little over 10 minutes later, then Duchene would snap a wrister of his own to pull Colorado ahead by three.
Even with two Boston goals later in the game - and a rock-solid performance from Anton Khudobin in relief of Rask, stopping all nine shots he faced - the Avalanche wouldn’t allow the Bruins to full even again during the game, and two empty-netters would seal their victory.
(Oh... and one of those was from Tyson Jost, who had to be helped off the ice earlier in the game. Take that, Adam McQuaid. Enjoy the fear of Player Safety almost certainly not coming after you!)
It’s still too soon to tell exactly how successful Colorado will be this year.
The New York Rangers have only beaten a mightily-struggling Montreal roster so far this year, and Boston is playing down two of their top centers; perennial Selke candidate Patrice Bergeron is out (not only depriving the team of his services, but diminishing Brad Marchand’s shine to boot) and David Backes is out long-term. With new additions to Boston’s roster, a significant lack of substantial talent down the middle, and uncharacteristically poor play from Rask to start out the year, they’re a hard roster to justify beating as playoff-bound foreshadowing.
Still, beating a bad team is a sign that, at the very least, you are less bad - and Colorado was expecting to be the team that lost to this kind of roster, not the other way around. Defeating Boston in back-to-back showdowns, outshooting them handily at home to boot, is a sign that maybe things have turned around.
Semyon Varlamov is also worth pointing out.
Last season, it was clear that at least part of his struggles came from a lingering pain in his core/hip area, which obviously resulted in surgery to shut him down.
He spent the offseason swearing by deep, thorough rehabilitation efforts, though, which very likely included additional stretching and agility work. It shows; he looks natural and comfortable, enabling him to play to his very best.