By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Putting the finishing touches on a four-game road trip to start off the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Boston Bruins are in Denver, Colorado for a game against the undefeated Colorado Avalanche who have not played since last Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. The Bruins have won all three games thus far, most recently beating the Vegas Golden Knights by a final score of 4-3 on Tuesday.
Arena: Pepsi Center – Denver, Colorado, USA
Home: Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0)
Away: Boston Bruins (3-0-0)
Bruins Last Game: 4-3 win vs VGK
Bruins Gameday Lineup:
Bruins forward Joakim Nordstrom will make his season debut for Boston tonight after dealing with an injury that dates back to the Stanley Cup Finals. In relation, forwards Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm are the healthy scratches for the B’s. In Colorado, forward Colin Wilson and defenceman Mark Barberio make their season debuts while forward J.T. Compher (lower-body) and defenceman Ian Cole (hips) deal with injuries.
In the early minutes of the game, both teams came out with some physical hits from Connor Clifton, Nikita Zadorov, and pretty much the entire squad of both teams. Colorado was able to get some offensive zone time in the first five minutes, using solid passing plays to keep the Bruins defensive units moving in their own zone while getting shots on Halak – who stops them all thus far.
Boston’s top line gets the first good chance of the game on a David Pastrnak-to-Patrice Bergeron bid in tight but Grubauer makes the stop. Seven minutes into the first period and the Avalanche are overwhelming the Bruins with speed and skill on rushes and periods of time in the zone.
Just under eight minutes into the hockey game – the Boston Bruins get the game’s first goal. In the middle of a line change that saw David Krejci briefly with Pastrnak and Marchand, the trio get the puck in deep where Marchand cycles the puck down low, feeding it to a wide-open Pastrnak in the slot – his second of the season. Assists go to Marchand and Krejci.
It should also be noted that the Kuraly line did a great job shutting down the dangerous MacKinnon line on their shift, allowing for the mismatch to occur when the Bruins top-line came out onto the ice. Great work by one of the hardest working fourth lines in the National Hockey League.
Following the game’s first goal, the Bruins start to get the better of the chances. Brad Marchand makes another solid play to leave the puck for Torey Krug who takes the shot right into Grubauer’s glove. Later in the frame, the first line continues solid puck movement in the offensive zone to give Bergeron a short chance in tight to the net that is also stopped.
As the period begins to come to an end, I continue to notice Connor Clifton and Karson Kuhlman for the Bruins. Clifton has been making good defensive plays to shut down chances from Colorado while Kuhlman has made good plays in his own end, stole the puck in the Avs’ zone and beat an icing call with his blazing speed. Good game for the young players of Boston.
Boston doesn’t stop there – with less than five minutes left to tick away in the frame, captain Zdeno Chara winds up from the point to take his patented slapshot that took a deflection off of Gabriel Landeskog’s stick in the high slot to beat Grubauer, giving the B’s a 2-0 lead in the first period of action. David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron credited with the helpers.
Throughout the course of the opening twenty minutes, goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been excellent, stopping some quality chances by Colorado including several cross-crease shots that the netminder stretched across to save. Halak looking great in his second game of the 2019-2020 season.
The first period of play has gone by pretty fast due to the lack of whistles but we do get another one – a Boston penalty – two minutes for too many men on the ice and the Avalanche will get 1:32 of power-play time to end the first frame. On the first good rush of the man-advantage, Landeskog rips a shot off the post only for Nathan MacKinnon to tap it home in the crease to cut Boston’s lead to one goal again. Not a pretty sight for Carlo and Bergeron who simply let Landeskog walk past them into the zone.
And that’ll wrap up the first period. Slow start, great middle, poor penalty that led to the goal. Overall a decent period for the Black and Gold heading into the middle twenty minutes.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 15 COL: 11
Score: 2-1 Bruins – Goals: Pastrnak (2) Assists: Marchand (2), Krejci (1); Chara (1) Assists: Pastrnak (3), Bergeron (3); MacKinnon (1) PPG Assists: Landeskog (2), Makar (3)
Right at the start of the second period, the Bruins second-line of Krejci, DeBrusk, and Kuhlman come flying into the zone with the puck, leading to a Kuhlman snipe from the faceoff circle that beats Grubauer off of the far-side post and into the net. DeBrusk did an excellent job to beat the defenceman on the race into Colorado’s zone. However, after a challenge by the Avalanche bench, the goal was reversed due to goaltender interference. Take what you want from it – no goal.
At the 6:19 mark of the frame, David Backes gets whistled down and sent to the penalty box for tripping. Bruins head to their second penalty-kill of the game so far, currently 0-for-1 tonight as the Avs’ only goal has come on the man-advantage. Much better PK for the B’s, only allowing one shot against and they had some good blocks from Kuhlman and Nordstrom. Back to even-strength.
Halfway into the game, Brad Marchand is stripped of the puck in his own zone, allowing Matt Calvert to bring it towards Jaro Halak. Calvert tosses the puck across the crease, eventually hitting the stick of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, tying the game for Colorado at two apiece. Lone assist to Matt Calvert on the play – sloppy breakouts and passes by Boston costing them here.
With the momentum of the home crowd in Denver, the Avs are starting to push the pressure on Boston in the second half of the second period. Jaroslav Halak makes three saves on the same play on numerous rebound opportunities to keep this game equal, doing his part to keep Boston in it.
It has been a close, back-and-forth period for a good portion of the twenty minutes, but one of the top chances for Boston came with just around three minutes to go. Charlie Coyle did a terrific job to dive and poke the puck up the ice for David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk on a 2-on-1. DeBrusk’s one-timed shot is met by a great reaching Grubauer who seems to be in his element tonight, the game remains tied.
In the final thirty seconds of the period, the Avs take an interference minor – more specifically, Nikita Zadorov, and Boston will start the third period with 1:42 of power-play time. Not the best period considering the goal against, but they got through it with some high-quality chances of their own.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 29 COL: 23
Score: 2-2 – Goals: Bellemare (2) Assists: Calvert (3)
Another great start for the Boston Bruins at the beginning of a period, even considering they start on the man-advantage. Right in front of the net, David Pastrnak makes a gorgeous backhand pass to Jake DeBrusk on the other side of the crease who waits for a split second and roofs it above the glove hand of Grubauer – Bruins take a 3-2 lead in the third. Until it is reviewed for offside. It is determined that the play was offside – no goal. Two goals overturned for Boston tonight.
Not looking to give up, the Bruins get a great chance to take the lead again on a beautiful 2-on-1 play from Pastrnak and Marchand, however, Marchand’s one-timer is stopped by a brilliant stretching save by Grubauer. On the ensuing faceoff, a Torey Krug shot takes a deflection in front right to Marchand who’s backhand shot rings off the iron and stays out. Back the other way, the Avalanche come mere inches from taking the lead of their own, but Halak makes a great save himself.
In continuation of that goaltending dual, Jaroslav Halak is the sole reason Colorado didn’t score on an offensive zone control that most likely nearly reached two minutes in length. Boston’s defense looked off and lost in their own zone. Heinen made a huge block from a point shot that evidently stung, but he stayed on the bench.
With 7:06 left to go, the Avalanche break the deadlock and take a 3-2 lead. Andre Burakovsky takes a wrist shot with a Joonas Donskoi screen in front of Rask and the shot rings off the post and into the net. Still, there is time left to equal the score, but considering how hot Grubauer has been, it is not going to be an easy feat.
Colorado buries the empty-net goal with just over a minute remaining in the hockey game. Avalanche win the game and hand the Bruins their first loss of the 2019-2020 season – 4-2 the final score.
Shots on Goal: BOS: 41 COL: 36
Final Score: 4-2 Avalanche
Max’s Three Stars:
1st Star: COL G Philipp Grubauer – 39 Saves, .951 SV%
2nd Star: COL F Gabriel Landeskog – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 5 Shots, 19:24 TOI
3rd Star: BOS G Jaroslav Halak – 32 Saves, .914 SV%
The Boston Bruins end the road trip with a 3-1-0 record and now look ahead to their home-opener on Saturday against the New Jersey Devils.