The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Boston Bruins in the shootout by a final score of 4-3. This was a fantastic hockey game and one that the Avalanche should look to build on. They dominated the pace of play for the vast majority of the contest and kept a solid hockey team in Boston chasing throughout the night. There were plenty of things to like tonight, so let’s break it all down!
The Avalanche came out with a solid tempo early on, controlling the pace of play as they needed to against such a good team on home ice. Their pressure resulted in getting the first powerplay opportunity of the contest. This didn’t result in starting the game with the lead, however, as the Bruins would generate two mini-breakaways while shorthanded. Alexandar Georgiev met the task on both chances, but this allowed the Bruins to generate some momentum, and on a powerplay opportunity of their own Brad Marchand walked in and ripped a wrister past the glove of Georgiev, making it 1-0 Bruins.
This was a frustrating result, as the Avs had played so well up until the penalty, but they got right back to work and got a goal of their own on another powerplay opportunity. The stars got to their cycle game, and after accepting a feed from Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon found Mikko Rantanen’s stick in the low slot, and he deflected the puck off the crossbar and into the net.
The period would play out from here, and the teams would skate into the intermission tied a goal a piece.
Early on in the second frame, the Avs were able to break the tie after Pavel Zacha and Kevin Shattenkirk collided while passing each other in the neutral zone, and Logan O’Connor was nearby to steal the dropped cargo and go glove side on a mini breakaway against Jeremy Swayman. Taking advantage of the opponent’s mistakes is something the Avs have struggled to do all season, and against one of the best teams in the NHL, the Avs chose the right time to capitalize on a mistake.
In the middle of the period the Bruins struck back off of a solid shift from their fourth line. John Beecher found the loose change in front after Sam Malinski and Kurtis MacDermid couldn’t locate the puck. There wasn’t much wrong with this goal, the Bruins worked hard and found a loose puck, and now the Avs had to get back to work.
Late in the frame, the Avs found another answer, and it came from Malinski, who was recalled on an emergency basis today after Josh Manson was reported as a game-time decision. Malinski found a tight shooting lane from the blueline off of a faceoff win and fired a seeing-eye puck through Swayman and into the net. This kid has some sick offensive tools, and I’m extremely excited for his future.
After 40 minutes of play, the Avs were in the lead and in control of the game, and as one of the best third-period teams this season, it was time for the Avs to tap into that as Boston was going to give their best punch in the final frame.
The thing about this Boston core is that they’re a resilient group, and won’t go away without a fight, and they displayed that to open the period. Just over five minutes into the period, the Bruins got back into their cycle game which led to Charlie Coyle zipping a pass from the corner across the crease to Brad Marchand, who tapped in his second of the contest and tied the game at three.
No. ✌️ of the night to tie it ©️ pic.twitter.com/hXomR3kbZZ— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 9, 2024
The rest of the period would play out with not much noteworthy action. Colorado had two powerplay opportunities late in the frame, and both teams exchanged posts, but this game would need to be settled in the extra frame.
The overtime frame was a quiet one for the most part, but with two minutes go, Logan O’Connor, who doesn’t typically play in OT, got the tap on the shoulder as someone who generally had a good night. He got burned in the open space and ended up taking a holding penalty to negate a scoring chance.
The Avs had to kill nearly an entire 4-on-3 penalty to close out OT, and the Avs PK came to the task, continuously contesting David Pastrnak who Boston was feeding relentlessly. The one-time Pasta was able to get a clean shot off, and Georgiev swallowed the puck in his pads.
The game would head to a shootout, where Alexandar Georgiev stopped all three shooters he faced (DeBrusk, Coyle, Pastrnak), and a lone goal from Valeri Nichushkin sent the Avs home with the extra point.
This was probably the best overall game the Avs have played since the Christmas break, and against one of the toughest opponents of the season thus far. They were committed to the defensive details, controlled the pace of play, and made relatively light work of a pretty good hockey team all night.
The statistics won’t reflect a solid performance like we’re itching for out of him, but Alexandar Georgiev was good between the pipes tonight. I don’t think any of the three goals he allowed tonight were on him. Maybe you can want the first one back, but that’s a world-class shot from an elite player, and the other two were just nicely executed Boston hockey. Georgiev keeps Colorado in advantageous positions throughout the night tonight, stopping back-to-back shorthanded mini breakaways in the first period, shutting the door on the late PK in OT, and shutting down all three shooters in the shootout.
I liked the special teams' work tonight on both sides of the puck. They got a powerplay goal and allowed one, but I think Colorado did a pretty good job at avoiding those defensive lapses in the slot that have been far too common this season. The one area on the ice you always want to have cleaned up and tidy is the slot, and Boston is a team that will eat you alive if you let them into your house. You unfortunately allowed two goals on the night in tight 5-on-5, but they didn’t have any breakdowns leading up to those goals. This is an area they need to continue to show improvement in, but they did a good job against a quality opponent tonight.
The Avs will be back in action on Wednesday evening for an important Western Conference matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m. MT.