The Colorado Avalanche extended their franchise record 17-game home winning streak with a, 4-3, overtime victory over the Boston Bruins Wednesday night at Ball Arena.
Nathan MacKinnon suffered an upper body injury early in the action and was forced out of the game, while Darcy Kuemper (20-5-1, 2.64 goals-against average, .913 save percentage) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the win for Colorado.
Boston goaltender, Linus Ullmark (14-5-1, 2.61 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in 21 games played), stopped 37 out of 41 shots faced in the overtime loss.
The Bruins fell to 24-13-3 (51 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division, as well as the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Avalanche retook the top spot out of all 32 teams in the National Hockey League with a 30-8-3 record (63 points in 41 games) and two games in hand over the Florida Panthers (29-9-5 in 43 games played).
Colorado continues to lead the Central Division by six points over the Nashville Predators.
Due to the ongoing pandemic’s effects on the NHL’s scheduling for the last couple of years, the B’s and Avs met for the first time Wednesday night since Dec. 7, 2019, when the Avalanche beat the Bruins, 4-1, at TD Garden.
Nick Foligno (upper body) joined Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Trent Frederic (upper body) and Matt Grzelcyk (upper body) on the list of Bruins players out of the lineup Wednesday night in Colorado due to various injuries.
Though John Moore returned to practice the other day, he was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Tuesday prior to Boston’s flight to Denver.
Anton Blidh returned to action for the B’s and was placed on the fourth line in Foligno’s vacated spot.
Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made no other changes to his lineup against the Avalanche.
Boston’s short list of healthy scratches on Wednesday included Steven Fogarty, Jesper Frödén and Tyler Lewington as the trio remain on the taxi squad for the Bruins.
Taylor Hall delivered an open ice hit on MacKinnon that caused MacKinnon’s stick to ricochet into his own face– leaving the Avalanche’s top star bloodied and lying on the ice 2:22 into the first period.
Hall was initially assessed a five-minute major on the play, but the on-ice officials reviewed and rescinded the major penalty in favor of a two-minute minor for interference on account of Hall leading with the shoulder and MacKinnon’s own stick doing the utmost damage on an unfortunate result to an otherwise clean hit.
Colorado did not score on the ensuing power play.
A few minutes later, Kurtis MacDermid cut a rut to the penalty box for cross checking against Brad Marchand at 5:29, but the Bruins weren’t successful on the ensuing skater advantage.
Midway through the opening frame, Andre Burakovsky set up MacDermid (1) at the point for a wrist shot off the post and into the back of the twine for his first goal of the season, as well as his first goal as a member of the Avalanche– having been selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft and subsequently traded to Colorado in July.
Burakovsky (19) and Valeri Nichuskin (9) tallied the assists as the Avalanche jumped out to a, 1-0, lead at 11:25 of the first period.
Momentum was fully on Colorado’s side.
About a minute later, Charlie McAvoy’s stick was apparently close enough to Gabriel Landeskog’s skates as the Avs captain went down and yielded an infraction against No. 73 in black and gold.
Colorado went on the power play once again at 12:52, but wasn’t able to convert on the advantage with Boston’s best defender in the box.
With less than a minute remaining in the opening frame, the Avs botched a line change and were charged with too many skaters on the ice at 19:42.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel served the bench minor as Boston’s power play would extend into the middle frame.
Through 20 minutes of action, Colorado led, 1-0, on the scoreboard despite trailing Boston, 13-8, in shots on goal.
The Avalanche led in giveaways (2-1), while the Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (8-0), takeaways (4-3), hits (11-7) and faceoff win percentage (75-25).
Both teams were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle period.
Colorado announced that MacKinnon would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury just as the second period was getting underway.
As such, Landeskog proceeded to give Hall a hard time on the ice– holding up the Boston forward near the benches and finishing his checks to the disappointment of those in Ball Arena that were wanting more bloodshed as the gloves remained firmly on the hands of each player.
Though, it could be argued that revenge is best served on the scoreboard– a lesson clearly learned by the Avalanche after trying to entice Bruins skaters into exchanging fisticuffs and falling behind in the second period only to force overtime and win the game after a dominant display in the third period.
Stick to your game (especially if it’s good enough to lead the league).
Anyway, after a stoppage in play early in the second period, Blidh and Tyson Jost exchanged pleasantries an received roughing minors at 5:52.
The two teams would skate at 4-on-4 for a pair of minutes, which gave Jake DeBrusk (7) just enough ice late in the 4-on-4 action to rush up the ice and snipe a shot under Kuemper’s blocker side into the upper corner of the net.
DeBrusk tied the game, 1-1, while McAvoy (20) tallied the only assist on the goal at 7:10 of the second period.
A few minutes later, Burakovsky tripped up DeBrusk– and after the Avalanche gained possession to initiate the delayed call– Oskar Steen and Samuel Girard followed Burakovsky to their respective penalty benches as the two skaters received roughing minors.
All three penalties were dictated at 10:29 of the second period and resulted in a power play for Boston.
A minute later, Erik Johnson tried getting his point across by delivering three swift cross checks to Hall’s back, but the on-ice officials felt it was perhaps a bit much.
Johnson skated over to the sin bin with a minor for cross checking at 11:29, resulting in a minute of 5-on-3 action for the Bruins before a regular abbreviated power play.
Shortly before Burakovsky rejoined the ice, McAvoy sent a shot that rebounded off Kuemper to Charlie Coyle (10) in the right place at the right time for a backhand shot from the doorstep– giving Boston the lead in the process, 2-1.
McAvoy (21) and Patrice Bergeron (21) notched the assists on Coyle’s power-play goal at 12:16 of the second period.
Shortly before the time expired on Johnson’s minor, J.T. Compher missed the net on a breakaway at the other end of the ice before David Pastrnak rushed up the ice with Marchand.
Pastrnak dropped it back to Marchand (21) for a wrist shot that sailed over Kuemper’s glove into the far side of the net– giving the Bruins a two-goal lead as a result.
Pastrnak (18) had the only assist on Marchand’s power-play goal and the B’s led, 3-1, at 13:31.
After scoring two goals in a span of 1:15, the Bruins wouldn’t hit the back of the net for the rest of the night.
Late in the period, Tomáš Nosek interfered with Nazem Kadri behind the net and put Colorado on the power play as a result at 15:33.
The Avalanche, however, remained powerless on the skater advantage heading into the second intermission.
Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard despite trailing, 30-25, in shots on goal after two periods.
Both teams managed to amass 12 shots each in the second period alone, while the Bruins continued to dominate in blocked shots (11-3), takeaways (5-3) and faceoff win% (67-33).
Colorado, however, led in giveaways (5-3) and hits (19-15) through 40 minutes.
The Avs were 0/3, while the B’s were 1/4 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.
Midway through the final frame, Girard (5) let go of a shot from the point that had eyes as it snaked its way through traffic and around the stick of his fellow teammate, Mikko Rantanen, into the twine behind Ullmark– pulling the Avalanche to within one and generating a shift in momentum at 11:46 of the third period.
Cale Makar (24) and Kadri (37) had the assists on the goal as the Avs trailed, 3-2, with plenty of time left to make things interesting.
With 2:33 remaining in regulation, Colorado head coach, Jared Bednar, pulled Kuemper for an extra attacker.
Bednar then used his timeout after a stoppage with 1:10 remaining in the action.
After an icing call was waved off, the Avalanche rushed into the attacking zone and worked the puck around Boston’s defensive end with relative ease– tiring the Bruins skaters that had been on the ice in the process.
Nichushkin sent a pass to Kadri, who setup Landeskog (16) with a saucer through the slot for the one-timer goal as Derek Forbort opted to try to block the shot instead of breakup the passing lane or get a stick on Landeskog’s stick.
Kadri (38) and Nichuskin (10) had the assists as Landeskog tied the game, 3-3, with the goalie pulled at 19:23 of the third period.
Ullmark couldn’t catch up– literally– as the Bruins goaltender dove across the crease glove first.
After regulation, the score was even, 3-3, despite the Avalanche amassing an, 18-7, advantage in shots on goal in the third period alone.
Colorado led in total shots on goal, 38-32, as well as in giveaways, 9-7, while Boston led in blocked shots (16-6), takeaways (6-4) and faceoff win% (61-39).
Both teams had 22 hits aside, while the Avs were 0/3 and the B’s were 1/4 on the power play heading into the extra frame.
Cassidy sent out Coyle, DeBrusk and McAvoy to start overtime, while Bednar countered with Landeskog, Rantanen and Makar.
Each team made at least one change on the fly before Mike Reilly tripped Nichuskin to breakup an otherwise high danger scoring opportunity for Colorado.
The Avalanche went on the 4-on-3 power play as a result at 1:14 of the overtime period and it proved to be costly for the Bruins.
Colorado toyed with Boston in the attacking zone before Kadri worked the puck over to Makar (17) for the game-winning power-play goal from the point over Ullmark’s blocker on the short side at 3:01.
Kadri (39) and Landeskog (25) tallied the assists– completing a three-point night (0-3–3 totals) for Kadri as Makar’s goal gave the Avalanche a, 4-3, overtime victory and their 17th win at home since Nov. 11, 2020– extending the ongoing franchise record in the process.
Colorado finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-32, including a, 3-0, advantage in overtime alone.
The Avs also exited their own building leading in giveaways (9-4) and hits (24-23), while Boston left Ball Arena leading in blocked shots (21-5) and faceoff win% (58-42).
Both teams went 1/4 on the power play on Wednesday as Boston fell to 2-2 in overtime this season (3-3 past regulation overall), while Colorado improved to 4-3 in overtime, as well as 7-3 past regulation in 2021-22.
The last time the Bruins won in Denver was on Nov. 13, 2016, in a, 2-0, shutout victory for Tuukka Rask (21 saves). David Krejci had a goal and an assist, while Dominic Moore scored an empty net goal in the win.
Wednesday night didn’t exactly go Boston’s way like it did almost six years ago.
The Bruins are now 9-8-3 (3-3-2 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 4-8-2 (0-3-1 on the road) when trailing after one period and 16-1-1 (10-0-1 on the road) when leading after two periods this season.
The Avalanche improved to 23-0-2 (14-0-1 at home) when scoring first, 18-0-0 (11-0-0 at home) when leading after the first period and 4-7-2 (4-2-0 at home) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.
Colorado became the first team since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins to have five players or more with at least 40 points by the halfway point of their season as Kadri (16-39–55 totals), Rantanen (22-27–49), MacKinnon (9-34–43), Makar (17-24–41) and Landeskog (16-25–41) each have cleared the 40-point hurdle through 41 games for the Avalanche as a team.
The Bruins continue their three-game road trip (0-0-1) Friday night in Arizona with a matchup against the Coyotes before paying a visit to the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Boston returns home to host the Seattle Kraken in their first-ever meeting on Feb. 1st.