Earning a point on the road against a supercharged Avalanche team that’s won 16 home games in a row should leave you feeling pretty good (dare I even say great) about what your team did that night.
But the Bruins found the absolute worst way to earn that point Wednesday night, as they were absolutely crushed in the third period, blew a two-goal lead in the final 8:14 of regulation, and saw Colorado defenseman Cale Makar end their evening with a power-play goal at the 3:01 mark of overtime to push the Avs to a 4-3 victory at Ball Arena.
It was a collapse like you read about, too, as the Bruins found themselves outshot 11-2, and outscored 3-0, over the final 12:04 of the losing effort. The Bruins also watched the Avalanche win nine of 15 faceoffs over that spell, and simply drowned against an Avalanche team that upped the temperature to a level that melted the Bruins.
“I think the biggest thing for me is watching us play the whole period in our own end because we couldn’t execute a breakout pass,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the loss. “You gotta keep playing hockey. They’re too good. You’re going to get fatigued, and sure enough, they start winning some faceoffs and we’re pulling it out of our net. You gotta keep playing. We’re usually pretty good at that. And then when you don’t, you got to play winning hockey, protect the middle of the ice.”
That did not happen for the Bruins in this one.
In addition to the glaring shot disparity in crunch-time (the Avalanche outshot the Bruins 21-7 from the start of the third period to Makar’s game-winning marker), the Bruins also failed to help out Linus Ullmark at all. Brandon Carlo’s defensive-zone turnover to Valeri Nichushkin right in the slot with under five minutes to go forced Ullmark to make a lead-preserving save, and Ullmark was forced to make a leaping shoulder save on the Avs’ Devon Toews just moments later.
The Bruins also failed to help Ullmark out when Brad Marchand, who put the Bruins up by two with Boston’s third goal of the game earlier in the night, tried to go up the middle through the D-zone with the Avalanche holding a 6-on-5 advantage. That numbers game proved to be enough for the Avalanche to take advantage of a would-be clear and set up the game-tying goal.
“That’s what the extra attackers out there for, right? They got an extra guy and they made a good play, let’s face it,” Cassidy said. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t battle that puck out or weren’t able to for it to bounce our way. It ricocheted into the middle where we did have some bodies, but they outnumbered us. So that’s what happened. They made a play when they had to.”
The loss wasted was a strong 37-of-41 effort from Ullmark in the Boston net, with Ullmark tested throughout the evening and credited with saves on all eight high-danger shots faced throughout the night.
The Avalanche also spent a large chunk of the night looking for some retribution on the Bruins’ Taylor Hall after Hall knocked Colorado superstar Nathan MacKinnon out of action with a check in the first period. The hit itself was clean, and it was MacKinnon’s stick that did the damage to his face, but the Avs still wanted to do what they could to make Hall pay.
Taylor Hall with a big hit on Nathan MacKinnon.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 27, 2022
MacKinnon’s stick hits him in the face and he’s cut up pretty good.
Hall eventually gets two minutes:
But the Avs’ pursuit for some frontier justice looked like it would be their undoing in the middle frame, as Erik Johnson crosschecked Hall about four times with the Avalanche already down a man, which created a five-on-three goal for Charlie Coyle and the aforementioned Marchand goal, which came two seconds after Johnson’s penalty expired.
The Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk also found the back of the net in the losing effort, giving him four points in his last four games, and four goals and eight points in 17 games since his trade request went public.
Cassidy’s squad will look to bounce back Friday night in Arizona.
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