Just as the Avalanche were finally getting healthy, they lost two important pieces to injury on Saturday as they marched into TD Gardens and defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1.
Colorado (19-8-2) lost defenseman Cale Makar and goaltender Philipp Grubauer to injuries while handing Boston its first regulation loss at home this season.
Grubauer started the game for the Avs but was pulled at 17:25 of the first period, just as forward Valeri Nichushkin scored for Colorado to the game at 1-1. Pavel Francouz replaced Grubauer in goal, making 16 saves the rest of the way.
Makar left in the third period after absorbing a hit from Bruins forward Brad Marchand along the boards.
Avs coach Jared Bednar did not have an update on either player but is expected to know more on Monday.
The injuries did not stop the Avs from playing a well-rounded road game against one of the NHL’s best teams. Colorado held Boston to just 20 shots and got the game-winning goal from defenseman Ian Cole in the second period. Cole was playing in his 500th career game, scoring his first of the season to make it 2-1.
Forward Andre Burakovsky added another in the second before an empty-net goal from captain Gabe Landeskog in the final moments gave the Avs a three-goal lead.
The offense is on fire. Despite all of the injuries, Colorado continues to have one of the more efficient offenses in the NHL. The Avs have outscored the opposition 26-10 during their season-high six-game winning streak. Colorado ranks second in the NHL in goals per game with 3.69, trailing only behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (3.74).
The Avalanche are Boston’s kryptonite. Just how good are the Avalanche against Boston? Well, not only are they 12-0-2 against the Bruins in their past 14 meetings in Boston, but the Avs are also responsible for two of Boston’s four regulation losses this season. Saturday’s loss was also the first regulation loss the Bruins have had at home all season. Furthermore, it was the first time that Boston had lost by more than two goals this season.
The Bruins are on a mission to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals. Colorado is the last team they want to face if they get there.
MacKinnon is third in NHL scoring. After his eight-game point streak was snapped against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon found the scoresheet on Saturday, assisting on the Burakovsky goal, to reach 45 points in 29 games. With the assist, and the Avs keeping Bruins forward Brad Marchand off the scoresheet, MacKinnon now ranks third in the NHL in points, trailing only behind Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Not bad for someone who has played a majority of the season without his regular linemates.
The Avalanche return home to take on the Calgary Flames at 7 p.m. MST on Monday.