Type to search

  • Takeaways: Bruins showcase shutdown prowess against high-powered Avs

    Tim Rosenthal January 19, 2024

    As banged up and weary as they were entering Thursday’s tilt, the Colorado Avalanche still possess one of the deeper rosters throughout the league.

    The Bruins found that out firsthand in Denver last Monday, overcoming a slow start and a Brandon Carlo injury to take a point out of a 4-3 shootout loss.

    In the rematch, the Bruins got that coveted start. And while Jim Montgomery’s club encountered a setback in the middle frame, they bounced back in the third with one of their better shutdown performances of the season.

    David Pastrnak got Boston off and running just 44 seconds in, notching his 27th of the season right after Charlie Coyle kept possession alive with a timely stickcheck on Cale Makar.

    Jakub Lauko notched his first of the year on a wide-open net on the doorstep for his first goal of the season.

    Miles Wood cut the Boston lead in half after following up his own rebound on an initial mini-breakaway shortly after Colorado’s first power-play attempt expired.

    Upon a failed Colorado offside challenge, the Bruins regained their two-goal cushion on Jake DeBrusk’s tip from Parker Wotherspoon’s initial shot attempt from the point.

    The Bruins couldn’t build on their two-goal lead in the second as they struggled to contain Colorado’s speed, leading to numerous high-danger chances against. Eventually, the Avalanche pulled within one again after Nathan MacKinnon buried a loose puck sitting behind Jeremy Swayman at 16:20 of the middle frame.


    Despite a sluggish second period, the Bruins saved their best 20 minutes for last.

    Against an Avs squad playing their third game in four nights, the Bruins held MacKinnon, Cale Makar and company to a mere four shots on net. The tightened defensive structure in front of Jeremy Swayman allowed Pastrnak to net a pair of insurance markers to cap off his 16th career regular-season hat trick.


    Here’s what we learned as the Bruins bounced back from their previous shootout loss to the Avalanche with a convincing 5-2 victory.

    Boston’s poise kept Colorado in check during the final 20

    Ahead of the holiday break, the Bruins endured a tough stretch of games in which they watched their leads vanish during the final 20 minutes.

    Their 4-3 overtime loss against the Wild on Dec. 19 particularly stood out. The Bruins relinquished the tying and go-ahead markers less than two minutes apart, only to salvage a point on Brad Marchand’s tying power-play marker late in regulation.

    Since then, the Bruins secured a victory whenever they held a lead entering the third. They’ve turned previous failures into motivation, which came in handy again on Thursday.

    “It’s a good sign for us closing out games, especially against a good team — a team that can be deadly with a lot of good players,” Coyle said. “That’s what we strive for…playing with the lead, trying to extend it but making sure we play the right way. I felt that we did a pretty good job of closing things out.”

    The Avalanche entered Thursday sitting tied for the league lead in third-period comeback wins with eight. They also overcame turned two-goal deficits into victories five times, good for a tie for second.

    Against Colroado’s high-end talent, the Bruins protected their lead with assertive play in all three zones. They then pounced on their golden opportunity late in regulation, delivering a dagger with Pastrnak’s power-play and empty-net tallies.

    “One of the better periods that we’ve had trying to protect the one-goal lead,” Montgomery said of Boston’s third-period effort. “We had poise coming out of our D-zone. We made strong plays. We had good, strong wall plays that led to a couple of odd-man rushes…and then how we hung onto pucks and were patient offensively, which got us the power-play and which got us the goal.”

    Pastrnak relishes matchups against opposing top talents.

    At just 27 years old, Pastrnak already sits on the top 10 of Boston’s all-time scoring list. On Thursday, he added yet another hat trick to his resume, this time against fellow elite talents like MacKinnon, Makar and Rantanen.

    “You always want to play against the top players, and they just make it a little tougher,” Pastrnak said of facing Colorado’s top-tier roster. “You wouldn’t mind if you stay away from their line because they’ve been playing unbelivable. But it’s obviously challenging and good motivation to play against them because [MacKinnon] and Mikko [Rantanen] have been unbelievable together. It’s fun to play against those guys.”

    Pastrnak didn’t need to dazzle with highlight reel moments. But he still showcased his scoring variety along the way.

    On his first tally, Pastrnak provided support for Coyle after the top-six center stole possession away from Makar.

    With the 3-2 lead intact, Pastrnak won a puck battle along the wall before crashing the front of the net. As DeBrusk positioned himself at the top of the slot, the 2015 first-round selection threaded the needle with a tape-to-tape pass for a critical insurance tally.

    Pastrnak “padded” his stat line once more, completing the hat trick and securing Boston’s 5-2 win with the empty netter in the final minutes.

    DeBrusk had his latest “best game of his season.”

    A lengthy slump may have derailed DeBrusk earlier in his career. It wasn’t so much his production that prompted ire from Bruce Cassidy, but rather the dropoff in his work ethic during the numerous cold stretches.

    Under Montgomery, DeBrusk worked through another scoring skid before the holiday break. He remained noticeable with his efforts even when he didn’t hit the scoresheet, but eventually, the Bruins needed that scoring touch from DeBrusk to make his 200-foot performances worthwhile.

    “I got half the year to make it up,” DeBrusk joked. “I’ve been in positions like this before where I didn’t think I could do it, but I knew I could do it, which makes it more frustrating just kind of waiting patiently. You try different things, but understand that it’s a long season.”

    Perhaps DeBrusk needed a little time settling into a role amid Montgomery’s constant line shuffling. 

    Playing on his off-wing next to Coyle and Brad Marchand, DeBrusk notched a six-game point streak coming out of the holiday break.

    Montgomery kept DeBrusk in his top six but moved him away from Coyle and Marchand and into a trio with Pavel Zacha and James van Riemsdyk over the last two games. But no matter the assignmment, DeBrusk is at his best whenever he has his motor going.

    On Thursday, DeBrusk’s footspeed, second efforts, and 200-foot presence resulted in his tip-in tally in the first and a primary assist on Pastrnak’s second marker late in regulation.

    “It seems to be getting repetitive here in the second half. It seems like every game is his best game of the year,” Montgomery said of DeBrusk. “And that’s a credit to him. His details, his habits…that play to Pasta, that’s a high-end play on the power play goal.”

    Facebook Comments
    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


    You Might also Like

    Leave a Comment