What we learned: Avalanche smother Bruins to extend TD Garden streak
Your water-cooler Q before Thursday night’s tangle with the Colorado Avalanche? Which NHL team has the longest unbeaten streak against the Bruins at TD Garden?
Well, technically at first blush you are right with Montreal’s current 0-7-2 run.
But look long and very deep and it’s the current worst-in-the-NHL Avalanche. Since the former Quebec Nordiques transplanted to Denver in 1998, the Bruins are 0-7-1; but add two more in Quebec and it goes to 0-8-1-1. The record is so long that it includes outcomes before the shootout was introduced.
Should be a gimme game for Boston off its comeback of the year Wednesday night in Trumpland where they spotted the Capitals and Braden Holtby a three-goal lead before storming back to a 3-3 tie and losing in OT. That ran Boston’s current streak and longest so far to 4-0-2.
Conversely, Colorado came to town with 19 total points, worst in the league, and 0-4-1 in their last five. But a respectable 5-6-0 on the road to Boston’s 7-5-0 on home ice.
Most notable player stat? David Pastrnak enters third in the NHL in goals with 16 behind Sidney Crosby and Patrik Laine.
With a long overdue rest for Tuukka Rask, Anton Khudobin at 1-3-0 got the nod in goal for the home team. Interestingly, the backup also between the pipes for Colorado in Calvin Pickard with a 4-2-1 mark and 2.44 goals against average for the NHL’s worst team.
“I think you have to be happy with [the way we played], “ Claude Julien said pregame about Wednesday night’s game. “Hopefully follow up with a great performance here tonight.”
The October 25 5-0 loss to the Wild was the biggest stinker on Causeway Street this season. Here’s what we learned in the second-biggest Thursday night.
Not-so-great performance early – Duchene and McKinnon extend streaks
“We gave up some soft goals and certainly dug ourselves a hole that was hard to come back tonight,” Julien summed after.
Indeed, the case.
With matching penalties at 4:40, the 4-on-4 went Colorado’s way when Ryan Spooner never picked up Matt Duchene alone in front of Khudobin, rifling a 15-footer glove side at 5:30 for the 1-0 lead. Pick the Avs’ player you don’t want in that position and it’s Duchene. It was his 10th goal on the road, second-best in the NHL.
Seven minutes left in the first with Boston on the man-advantage – and the Avs struck again when Torey Krug got caught trying to short play a blue-line dribbler. Nathan MacKinnon – led the NHL with 61 shots in November – sped off unattended for the top-shelf wrister past Khudobin at 12:57. Both shots beat Khudobin glove-side.
“It’s a 50-50 play, but maybe early in my career, I learn that now and probably won’t do it anymore,” Krug said about the short-handed goal. “I thought instinctively I could get there and keep him hemmed in.”
The Avalanche penalty kill? 76-for-96 (25th NHL). Bruins power play? 12-for-83 (26th NHL).
That second period start…
Beach Boys’ lyrics “giddyup, giddyup, 409,” as Colorado made it look like a day at the beach when John Mitchell scored the third consecutive unassisted goal (gotta be some kind of record) clanging iron – yep, Khudobin’s glove side – before finding twine. At 4:09.
The 3-0 deficit the second such in 24 hours.
…And finish – A three-goal comeback?
The last time the Bruins came back from a three-goal hole to win was against the Leafs in the 2013 playoffs. Regular-season? 2011.
With Boston short-handed, David Pastrnak launched out of the sin bin, while Tim Schaller caught an errant Avs’ pass off the wall. Schaller sent a 100-foot cue-ball pass off the opposite boards and onto Pastrnak’s stick. One-on-one with Pickard was no contest for his 17th at 12:03, tying No. 88 with Sidney Crosby and Winnipeg rookie Laine for the league lead.
With Crosby scoring his 18th in Florida, Pastrnak matched the reigning Conn Smythe winner, taking Pickard to school 90 ticks later at 13:23 for the one-goal deficit; Marchand and Krug assisting. Dominic Moore (early favorite for “7th Player Award”) went in alone with four minutes left and the Black and Gold short-handed, but his backhander dribbled away.
The steam in the TD crowd dissipated when Carl Soderberg scored at 17:05 on the power play. It was Soderberg’s fourth of the season, and just Colorado’s 14th shot on Khudobin – sixth in the second period. Oh yes, glove side.
“We needed some saves tonight,” the B’s coach said about Khudobin. “We didn’t get them, he’s got to be better.”
“I just had a lot of energy,” Khudobin said. “I think it just didn’t work out my way.
The Bruins are 1-9-2 when trailing after 40 minutes.
“We were still sleeping there early in the game,” Brad Marchand said, “and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities and we couldn’t claw our way back.”
“You got to move on here, and to me it’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get-go, we would have had a chance,” Julien said. “Now we got to move forward here and start getting ready for Toronto.”
That’s Saturday night.