Avalanche added to list of opponents unable to beat Bruins in Boston


BOSTON – If Avalanche players looked to their right, they saw on the adjacent bench what they would like to be by the end of the regular season.

The NHL’s best team demolished a hollow shell of what might be the NHL’s best team – it’s becoming too difficult to tell whether Colorado possesses that title, with injuries clouding the issue. The Bruins overwhelmed the Avalanche 5-1 here Saturday evening with depth and physicality, one trait that the Avs miss most and another they’re coming to resent.

Artturi Lehkonen is the latest reason why. The top-line wing missed a power play shift late in the first period and ultimately did not return due to an upper-body injury. Colorado (13-8-1) already has eight injured players.

The veteran core in Boston, meanwhile, has been a model of fortitude for the last decade. Experience and chemistry are paying dividends. The Bruins (20-3-0) are tied for the fastest team to 20 wins in NHL history after dismantling the defending champs at TD Garden, where opponents are now 0-14-0. Only two other teams have reached 20 wins in the first 23 games of a season.

“It’s the same environment. Same sheet of ice. But they’re obviously a really good team, home or road,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said before the game. “Obviously at home, they’re getting extra energy from their fans, and they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Avalanche’s depth is so impacted that with Lehkonen out in the second period, rookie Jean-Luc Foudy joined the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. It was Foudy’s third career game.

The Avs were outshot 39-26 with No. 2 goalie Pavel Francouz in net. He had an up-and-down night: At one point, a puck he should have easily covered trickled by him and across the goal line. He was only bailed out by the goal dislodging a millisecond earlier. A few minutes later, he denied a penalty shot to keep the deficit at 3-0.

In the 200th career game for Avalanche superstar defenseman Cale Makar, Bruins blueliner David Pastrnak stole the spotlight with a two-goal performance. He scored Boston’s first by showing off his laser shot after a well-threaded pass across the slot by Brad Marchand. His second was an easy breakaway finish after Avalanche defenseman Jacob MacDonald mishit a shot from the blue line. He was a stride behind Pastrnak in the race to the other end.


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