When Andre Burakovsky was traded to the Avalanche during the offseason, the plan was for him to be put in a position where he could succeed. During his time with the Washington Capitals, Burakovsky was often shuffled up and down the lineup, sometimes even healthy scratched.
But on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center, Burakovsky scored the game-winning goal of a 4-2 victory while playing on a line with fellow Avalanche newcomers Nazem Kadri and Joonas Donskoi. It was his first goal in an Avs uniform, but most importantly, it was an opportunity for him to breathe a little easier knowing he was finally taking advantage of the opportunity he yearned for in Washington.
“It felt great. You never know when you’re gonna score in this league,” Burakovsky said. “It’s tough to get goals and sometimes you’re just lucky. I shot at the net and got hit at the same time, so it was lucky.”
Burakovsky’s goal was the definition of being rewarded for your hard work. He joined the second line because an injury to centerman J.T. Compher shuffled the lineup. But after the new-look line failed to score on numerous opportunities, it took an unassisted Burakovsky goal to finally break the tie.
“We kind of knew what they were going to do on the faceoff and just trying to read it a little bit and I don’t think their guy was fully awake when I kind of jumped by him,” he said. “I think I got a couple strides on him and the D-man too. He turned his back on me and as soon as he does that, you can create a lot of time by pulling up like I did and then just trying to shoot at the net. I mean, we’ve been talking about getting pucks to the net all of the time and that’s just something that was in my mind and obviously a lucky post and in.”
Similar to the first two games, the Avalanche needed strong play from goaltender Philipp Grubauer in order to seal the victory in the third period. Grubauer has yet to surrender a goal in the final frame, making 12 saves in the third to give the Avalanche an opportunity to score the go-ahead goal and the empty-netter.
“Our goalie saved our bacon a couple times,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “I loved our goalie.”
The Avalanche trailed 2-0 before a late first period power-play goal from superstar Nathan MacKinnon, his first of the season, made it a one-goal game before the break. Colorado ended up tying the game midway through the second before the Burakovsky goal late in the third put the team ahead.
Prior to the game-tying goal, the Bruins had two goals that were successfully challenged and called back by the Avalanche coaching staff. The first for goalie interference and the second for offside.
“The coach was making that call, I’m not involved in that,” Grubauer said about the goalie interference play. “I’m so focused on the puck that sometimes I don’t know if it’s my guy bumping into me or their guy until I see the replay.”
Footnotes: Colorado has scored in each of the first nine periods to start the season, a new club record … the Avalanche are 3-0-0 to start the year for just the second time in their history (2014, 6-0-0) … defenseman Cale Makar recorded an assist. He is the third rookie defenseman in franchise history to record an assist in each of his first three regular-season games … the Avalanche have scored an empty-net goal in three straight games.