The Colorado Avalanche came into the second game of their east coast back-to-back one point up on the Chicago Blackhawks, three points back of the St. Louis Blues, and five points back of the Minnesota Wild. They then played a hard fought game against the Boston Bruins that ended 2-1 in overtime, pushing them four points back of the Wild and Blues, and now even on points with the Blackhawks.
It was yet another overtime loss for a team that now can’t seem to find the net once they get past regulation. The Avs frustrations are growing as quickly as their playoff hopes are shrinking. In a game where the team finally appeared to get rid of their major issues, they couldn’t completely rid themselves of their demons.
The Bruins started the game strong, keeping a majority of play in the Avs zone for the first five minutes or so. After those opening minutes, the top line for the Avalanche started to really dictate play. Nathan MacKinnon found a nice shot from a tough angle, and a long shift drew a penalty from the Bruins. Despite only recording one shot on the opening power play, the Avs were able to find several good chances despite not finding the back of the net.
After the power play, the majority of the chances were going the way of the Avalanche, who found themselves outshooting the Bruins 8-5 through the first 16 minutes of play. Then Gabriel Landeskog took a tripping minor, and it looked like the Avs penalty killing woes may undo all their hard work against a side whose home power play is number one in the league.
David Pastrnak was stoned by Varlamov on a great chance just before J.T. Compher and Matt Calvert created a great shorthanded chance, drawing a penalty themselves. During the ensuing 4-on-4, MacKinnon looked incredible, creating space for himself and teammates and the Avs were denied a great scoring chance when Jaroslav Halak expertly controlled a rebound from a Sam Girard shot with Gabriel Landeskog standing on the doorstep waiting.
Halak could not display the same expertise when the 4-on-4 turned into a power play for the Avs. MacKinnon spun around Colorado native Brandon Carlo and put an incredible goal straight over Halak’s shoulder from a tough angle as the power play expired. The Bruins only had four men on the ice when it happened, but it goes down on the stat sheet as an even strength goal.
The MacKinnon goal in essence ended the period with Colorado leading 1-0 on the scoreboard and 12-7 in shots on goal.
Both teams struggled to truly find their identity through the first period and it spilled into the second. Boston came out looking like the better team for the earlier part of this period, although the Avs did well to control the puck on offense.
Semyon Varlamov was silencing all of his recent doubters, making a great save on a Trent Frederic shot only a few seconds after Halak had turned a good chance from Landeskog away. However, Varlamov would not hold his shutout for much longer. Charlie McAvoy unleashed a huge hit on Matt Nieto and John Moore found himself in perfect position, going five-hole on a screened Varlamov, who didn’t seem to see any of that shot.
After that goal the Bruins seemed as though they were going to take over the game.
Mikko Rantanen lost his stick in the middle of a shift, and the Bruins created several chances, resulting in a penalty to MacKinnon. A power play goal almost seemed a sure thing when Carl Soderberg took an interference penalty in top of the MacKinnon call while he was pushing for a short-handed opportunity.
The ensuing 5-on-3 was a turning point for the Avalanche, with the defense looking good, but Varlamov looking GREAT. When the 5-on-3 ended, the Avalanche found by far the best chance of the night, with Nathan MacKinnon on a breakaway straight out of the penalty box. A situation every Avs fan was counting as a sure goal was turned away at the last moment with Halak making a great save.
The Avalanche weathered the rest of the power play and eventually turned that momentum into several chances on the other end. The Avalanche top line was dictating play, but couldn’t find any reward for their efforts. David Pastrnak was in great form on the other end, creating space for his teammates, but the Bruins couldn’t find much offensive success to end the period.
The second period did end on a somewhat wild note, as Varlamov let in a ricochet goal from center ice that was immediately disallowed. Looking at the replay, the puck had bounced off the turnbuckle on the bench and shot into the net. The game remained 1-1 with Colorado holding a 24-22 shot advantage.
The first five minutes of the third was fairly devoid of action, and TD Garden was silent. MacKinnon and Pastrnak both played very well to start the period, doing well to create chances and space for their respective teammates. The most action early in the period was a flurry of saves by Varlamov that ended with him and Landeskog both laying on the ice covering the puck to get a whistle.
The Bruins did will to dictate play, but when the Avs finally pushed the puck out of their zone they managed to draw a penalty. Although the Avs had several good chances, the Bruins did well to kill it off and clear. Almost immediately after the first penalty ended, Matt Nieto found himself on the verge of a breakaway before being hooked. There was certainly an argument to be made for a penalty shot, but in the end it was a short lived power play. Just 15 seconds in, Marchand was hooked on a shorthanded chance. The ensuing 4-on-4 led to a few chances, but nothing major for either team.
The Avalanche found themselves with yet another incredible chance to take the lead, as a great shot by MacKinnon left Halak helpless to stop Mikko Rantanen’s rebound, but Charlie McAvoy dove through the crease, blocking the shot.
After the Avs chance at one end the Bruins maintained control of the puck for an extended shift in the other. Both teams could have been easily called for penalties in the Avalanche zone after a few back to back rough plays. As the clock neared two minutes left, the officials finally assessed a penalty on the Avs, leaving them on the kill almost until the clock expired. The Avs did well to limit chances on this power play, with Varlamov coming up big as the penalty expired. 15 seconds ran off the clock, sending the Avs to their third-straight overtime.
This game could have easily been a high scoring, offensive explosion by this point, but both goalies were lights out through this third period. Regulation ended tied at one.
The Avalanche are a talented team who cannot seem to figure out overtime. Both teams traded quality chances to start overtime before the Avs settled on the puck, retreating back to their own zone when necessary.
Through four minutes of overtime, the Avs seemed to get everything right. They possessed the puck incredibly well, with Sam Girard in particular looking mightily impressive. They looked patient and did well to keep the Bruins chances to a minimum.
Despite all their hard work, one funny bounce was all it took to sink this team in overtime yet again. Brad Marchand released a shot that redirected off Matt Calvert’s leg, and it looked like Varlamov never had a chance at it.
The Avalanche lost this one 2-1 despite a slim lead in shots with 36 to the Bruins 35.
The Avalanche return home for a Tuesday game against Toronto, before heading into arguably the most important stretch of their season, with 10 of their next 13 games coming against Western Conference opponents.
The game Tuesday will air locally on Altitude at 7:00 PM MT.