Playing their second game in as many days, and their fifth game in the last eight days overall, the Bruins were down by a goal and seemingly dead in the water through 20 minutes of Sunday's afternoon meeting with the Avalanche.
Then came a boost from Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy, whose jolt of life was his hit on the Avs' Matt Nieto, which was almost immediately complemented with a John Moore goal just seconds later, and served as an obvious turning point in a 2-1 overtime victory at TD Garden.
Charlie McAvoy introduces himself to Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto. pic.twitter.com/yt2W6W9h2Q
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 10, 2019
"I think [McAvoy]'s starting to now play [the game in front of him], and then when the opportunities are there, he looks like to me that he’s taking advantage of the situation," said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. "He's in a groove right now."
"It’s just something that I possess, that I like to do," said McAvoy. "I like to be physical when I can within the rules, so it was nice to get a couple of hits. I don’t want to say it led to the goal, but it was nice to get rewarded at the end of that shift."
The scorer on that Boston goal, Moore, though, noted the boost that comes with McAvoy's physicality.
"When guys hit him, they seem to bounce off and when he initiates it like that they’re are not many guys that can withstand his strength," Moore offered. "He does so many things well to incorporate that makes him elite."
From that goal, the Bruins seemed to show a more concerted effort to win battle and create secondary looks against Semyon Varlamov and the Avalanche, and finished the second period with 15 shots on goal.
But the game slowed to a crawl in the third period -- even when the Bruins were gifted a power play opportunity with 2:16 left in regulation -- and was forced to be settled in overtime, where Brad Marchand played hero with his 21st goal of the year.
"You could tell both teams were a little tired, especially in the third," Marchand admitted. "There wasn’t a whole lot going on in the third period, we both kind of just hit a wall. That’s what happens when you have a long week of hockey – they traveled, we played back-to-backs. So, it’s kind of expected but it’s good that we got the points."
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who has struggled beyond belief in recent weeks, got his game on track with a 35-of-36 performance, and with no stop bigger than his shorthanded breakaway save on Nathan MacKinnon.
"Goalies are judged by their wins and losses, right?" said Cassidy. "So, you don’t have one for a while or not enough of them...again, only he can answer, but I would assume you get in your own head a little bit sometimes when you start questioning probably every goal that goes in. Tonight, he was good value for us."
Forward David Backes was a healthy scratch for the Bruins after logging 9:34 in Saturday's overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings, while Matt Grzelcyk (lower-body) sat for the second game in a row.
Boston's victory also snapped a rather bizarre stretch of sorts, as it was the Black and Gold's first home win against the Avalanche since Mar. 1998, putting an end to a 12-game home winless streak against the Avs.
The Bruins play host to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.