The Boston Bruins checked into the Mile High City for the final stop on their season-opening four-game road trip. And for the first time all season, Bruce Cassidy and company exited the building in defeat.
The Bruins played well enough to walk away with another two points, but a pair of untimely video reviews and strong Avalanche comeback shifted momentum from one side of the ice to the other.
David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara started off the scoring festivities with a pair of first period tallies. Karson Kuhlman later finished a feed from Jake DeBrusk to seemingly put the Bruins ahead by two, but a goaltender interference review overturned things and kept Boston’s lead to 2-1.
The Avalanche, even with the slew of questionable calls in their favor, kept pressuring the Bruins all night, eventually tallying four straight goals after allowing the first two.
Nathan MacKinnon, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog all sparked the Avs comeback with their tallies, while a red-hot Phillip Grubauer made 39 saves between the pipes en route to a 4-2 victory.
“We scored four goals, they counted two unfortunately. That’ll happen,” Bruce Cassidy told NESN postgame. “It’s one of those nights where things don’t go your way.”
Here’s what we learned as the Bruins return to Boston with a 3-1 mark through the first four games.
The top line has found its groove
The Bruins played well despite some unfortunate bounces. And, once again, the top line of Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron led the way.
Picking up right where they left off Tuesday night in Vegas, the talented trio combined for four points. They provided quality scoring chances throughout the night.
With the second line still working its way back into sync following David Krejci’s return from injury, the Bruins need their dynamic trio to deliver the lion’s share of offense. The top line notched goals in each of their last three games following opening night in Dallas.
Another year of nonsensical replay reviews
It wasn’t the reason the Bruins lost this game, but it’s hard to feel like video challenges didn’t cost them two points on Thursday night.
It started with Kuhlman’s non-goal after the officials ruled that Krejci somehow interfered with Grubauuer.
The goalie interference rule provides such a grey area where no one is certain which way a review will go. The Bruins swallowed a bitter pill Thursday night — despite playing well — after the Kuhlman call shifted momentum.
“We should have won this game 4-2. Those were goals, honestly,” Jake DeBrusk told reporters after the game. “I had a goal and an assist tonight and they both got called back. I don’t think it’ll snowball but definitely pissing me off for sure.”
DeBrusk, of course, is referencing his third-period power-play goal to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead. Except, the Avalanche challenged again — this time for an offside that took place 51 seconds prior to DeBrusk’s tally — resulting in another no-goal for Boston.
The referees made the correct call by the letter of the law after Pastrnak barely stayed offside. But that’s not the point. That offside had no effect on the goal that happened nearly a minute after. It’s still perplexing that the league allows a wide time frame between a missed offside and a goal to be subject for review.
Instead of leading 3-1 in the second or 3-2 in the third, the Bruins ended up playing from behind in the third. They did everything they could to steal two points, but the head-scratching calls didn’t do them any favors to close out the road trip.
A successful season-opening trip
Forget about the loss. The Bruins took six of a possible eight points on a tough road swing to kick off the season.
The Bruins had a potential Stanley Cup Final hangover looming over them during this stretch. They avoided that initial disappointment with victories over a deep Dallas squad, a young and improving Coyotes bunch and a stout Vegas side. And the one game they lost, they scored four goals — only for two to go overturned — against a quality opponent on the last stop of the road trip.
Now the Bruins head back to Boston, where they kick off a four-game homestand Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils.
Yes, the Bruins still have areas where they need to improve, including secondary scoring. But they couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new campaign.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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