What we learned: Bruins hit big low in Mile High City
Forty-eight hours before, a Columbus Day matinee against the Colorado Avalanche in which a Bruins’ flat performance produced a 4-0 loss.
Two first-period goals on the Avs’ first two shots. The first one a half-save by Tuukka Rask when a Nail Yakupov shot deflected off his glove to the back of the net.
Wednesday night in Denver, a rematch in the Avs’ opener after a successful three-game road start with two wins. The Bruins at 1-1-0 and without Patrice Bergeron for the second season missing the first three games. Former Denver University product Danton Heinen called up from Providence.
“They got the lead on the road and protected it the way you’re supposed to,” Bruce Cassidy about Monday’s game.
“Of Boston’s first seven games, only Nashville was a playoff team last year,” NESN’s Andy Brickley said pregame. “It’s time to bank some points.”
“Play to our standard,” Cassidy said about the Wednesday night’s focus.
Here’s what we learned as Yakupov earned Wednesday’s No. 1 star as the Bruins produced another poor performance in Colorado’s 6-3 drubbing for four points in 48 hours.
B’s start flat again
Former Harvard standout, rookie Alexander Kerfoot, scored his first NHL goal at 8:19 on a déjà-vu first goal from Monday to give the Avalanche the early lead. After Tuukka Rask survived an early no-goal call on a backboard deflection he covered on the goal line, Kerfoot launched a 20-foot wrist shot that rolled over Rask’s shoulder after the preliminary save.
“Dead-legged start but they have come alive,” NESN’s Jack Edwards said late in the period after the Bruins started with but one shot in the first 10 minutes.
“The first 10 minutes were not adequate,” NESN analyst Billy Jaffe echoed after 20 minutes.
At 17:06, Brad Marchand went end to end down the right side with an off-wing wrist shot that whistled by Semyon Varlamov to tie the game; Ryan Spooner assisting.
Second period collapse leads to Colorado avalanche
Just a minute into the second period, Nathan McKinnon and Yakupov swooped in 2-on-1 on Rask with the former Oilers first-round pick netting his second goal in 48 hours against Rask.
A second power play of the night went for naught putting the Black and Gold at 1-for-11 on the man advantage after going 0-for-4 Monday.
At 11:53, Adam McQuaid took two for a damaging cross check that sent Tyson Jost to the dressing room. Colorado got retribution seconds later when Sven Andrighetto scored his second in 48 hours to give the home team a two-goal lead.
“Critical time in the hockey game,” Brickley said.
At 15:43, Matt Duchene launched a right-wing rocket past Rask to put the Avs up three goals with a 15-5 shot advantage in the second period; 26-9 overall.
“It’s been almost all Avs, all night,” Edwards decried after 40 minutes.
Too little too late
Cassidy opted for Anton Khudobin for the final 20, while an early power play opportunity put the B’s at 0 for their last 10. But a Tim Schaller goal with assists to Sean Kuraly and Heinen at 11:30 kept the game interesting.
A power play gave Boston another life when Torey Krug converted at 12:57 with Marchand and Riley Nash assisting.
“The Bruins have come back to scare the Avs at least,” Edwards said after Krug’s tally.
Two spectacular saves by Khudobin with three minutes remaining kept the B’s hopes alive. With 1:43 left, Cassidy pulled Khudobin. But David Krejci lost a key faceoff and seconds later Andrighetto took it in all alone from center ice for a 5-3 lead. Jost added another empty-netter for the 6-3 final.
“Start to finish, Colorado was the better team,” Edwards said after the final horn. “The Bruins have a lot of work to do.”
On to Arizona Saturday
Before the second Colorado game Wednesday night, Brickley also commented: “They have holes – they need help.” Brickley was referencing the Colorado Avalanche and their ongoing trade dynamic around Duchene. Gotta wonder if the same sentiment now extends to the Black and Gold.
Gotta wonder also what standard Cassidy’s boys are playing to after just three games.
“We put ourselves in bad spots,” he said postgame.