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Early games have been nightmare fuel for the Colorado Avalanche and during their current six-game losing streak heading into their road contest against the Boston Bruins, it was easy to point at their failures within the first five minutes of periods as the main culprit for their woes.
Against the Bruins, however, Colorado found the jump they’ve lacked previously and a gorgeous effort from Matt Duchene during a 4-on-4 ended in him shooting between a defenseman’s legs and finding the tiniest of holes to beat Bruins goaltender Anton Khudobin, giving him three goals in his last two games, this one at the 5:30 mark of the first period.
The Avalanche weren’t done, however, as Nathan MacKinnon killed the first minute-plus of a Bruins power play and found himself alone with the puck streaking down the ice before running out of steam and firing a wrister past Khudobin to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead, the most unfamiliar of territories for a team who has made coming from behind a custom.
Colorado’s two-goal lead in the second period surged to three when John Mitchell came in with Mikko Rantanen in a two-on-one and eschewed the pass in favor of sniping one off the post and in to push Colorado ahead 3-0, an unfathomable lead given Colorado’s horrid play lately.
The Avs inevitably found their way back to earth, beginning with David Pastrnak somehow being left uncovered leaving the penalty box and being given a clean breakaway, which he took advantage of. Despite his initial offering being stopped by Calvin Pickard, Pastrnak cleaned up the rebound with ease and cut the deficit to 2-1.
Pastrnak wasn’t done, however, as he was determined to tie Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals this season and his one-timer off a won Bruins faceoff did the trick and just like that Colorado’s 3-0 lead was down to 3-2 and they were reeling. If history was an indication, the meltdown was just the beginning.
Instead, the Avalanche have a history of their very own in Boston and they weren’t interested in giving up so easily. A late-period power play looked to be a colossal waste of time as the Bruins generated a breakaway and several shots on goal before Mikhail Grigorenko made a spectacular pass to Carl Soderberg, who banged home the puck into an empty net and gave Colorado the 4-2 lead heading into the game’s final scheduled frame.
The Avalanche played a perfect third period, going nearly even in shots in goal and stoning a weak Bruins attack to break the six-game losing streak. It also continues their winning streak in Boston, where they haven’t lost since 1998.
1. Matt Duchene
2. David Pastrnak
3. Nathan MacKinnon
PLAY OF THE GAME
Grigorenko’s pass to Soderberg was the kind of play he makes often enough to keep you believing in his talent but not often enough to be a legit top six player for the Avalanche.
Mitchell’s goal changed the entire complexion of the game as the 3-0 lead was uncharted territory for Colorado and when Pastrnak scored twice in the second period it was that goal that kept Colorado where they wanted to be – ahead.
BY THE NUMBERS
Colorado’s next appearance is Saturday night against at the Montreal Canadiens.