The Colorado Avalanche entered their third game of the season facing off against one of the other remaining undefeated clubs, hosting the Boston Bruins as the Stanley Cup runner-ups continued rolling in their season-opening Western Conference road trip.
It took some favorable odds, as the officials were given two chances to swing the game with goaltender interference challenges against the Bruins — but ultimately, a strong offensive push from Colorado and another strong performance from Philipp Grubauer helped the Avalanche take home a win on a snowy Thursday night. They skated away with a 4-2 victory, improving to 3-0-0 to start the season as the only Central Division team without a loss on their record yet.
The game started off looking exactly like the kind of contest you’d expect from a pair of teams that have rolled through their first few contests of the season. There was plenty of back and forth action from both clubs early on — and although the Bruins had the better chances to start, Philipp Grubauer continued to look solid for yet another game.
The Bruins opened up scoring, when a bad giveaway behind the net by Nikita Zadorov resulted in a Brad Marchand takeaway and a nice pass to David Pastrnak.
The Avalanche then got pretty unlucky when a Zdeno Chara point shot deflected off of Gabriel Landeskog to put Boston up 2-0.
While the Bruins could have run away with the game at that point, though, the visiting team took a too many men on the ice penalty for icing 7 skaters — and on the ensuing power-play, the Avalanche managed to pull within one. A great zone entry from Landeskog only resulted in a shot that hit the post, but MacKinnon beat Boston’s defenders to the rebound to score his first of the season. Add in a Cale Makar assist on the goal — meaning the highly-touted defender now has a point in each of his first 3 regular season games — and Colorado stayed in it well.
The Bruins once again opened up the period with a goal — but for the first time of the night, the Avalanche managed to get the tally called back on a coach’s challenge after David Krejci crowded Grubauer too much in the crease ahead of the shot.
From there, the period continued to turn in Colorado’s favor. Matt Calvert caused a turnover against the boards, and a nice pass across the crease to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare gave the veteran forward his second in the last two games to tie things up.
Grubauer kept the game tied with a great save with 3 minutes left, and even a late penalty by Zadorov wasn’t enough to turn the tides for the Avalanche for the rest of the night.
Bruins executed a textbook power-play to start the period, and Jake DeBrusk scored to give Boston the initial lead. Once again, though, the goal was overturned to keep the score at two apiece. An offside challenge — which had happened nearly a minute before the goal was scored — gave the Avalanche an incredible chance to stay in the game in the final 20 minutes.
The Bruins continued putting on a lot of pressure on Grubauer through the first half of the third. But an elite save on Brad Marchand, even though it ended up balanced out by a phenomenal save by Jaroslav Halak on Gabriel Landeskog, ensured that the home team wouldn’t disappoint the fans.
Andre Burakovsky ended up scoring on a screened Halak off of a nice rush to put the Avalanche up 3-2, and then an empty-netter by Gabriel Landeskog wrote the finish with a 4-2 final decision.
The second line of Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, and Andre Burakovsky were outplayed by their opponents significantly at 5v5 through two periods. They managed to turn things around in the 3rd, though, ultimately creating the game-winning goal.
Of Burakovsky’s 12 goals last season, nine were game winners. Adding one more tonight means that hopefully, he’ll be exactly what the team needs as they continue to roll through their opponents.
Tyson Jost looked really comfortable after being moved back to center — a reminder to stay patient with him as the season moves on.
On the defensive end, Erik Johnson looks to be completely healthy after offseason surgery. He was back to his old self, which can only be a good thing for the Avalanche and their up-and-coming defensive corps.
Once again, Philipp Grubauer was incredibly strong — particularly when it mattered the most. He hasn’t let in a 3rd period goal yet this season — and while that isn’t likely to hold over the full 82 games, it’s likely working wonders as the rest of the team continues to learn how to play with chemistry.