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Berra, Briere Big Vs. Bruins

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

There’s just something about playing the Boston Bruins that brings out the best in the Colorado Avalanche. The club is now 16-8-1 against the 2013-14 President’s Trophy winners, including a whopping 8-0 with one tie at TD Garden in Boston.

Whenever the two clubs meet, the games are always exciting, and Monday’s midday matinee at the Bruins was no different. Coming off of back-to-back shutouts, the Avalanche needed a strong start to the four-game Eastern Conference road trip. That’s exactly what the club got in a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

“What was said in between the first two games was ‘get back to working hard.’ That’s the bread and butter of this team,” said veteran forward Daniel Briere after the game. “We got away from it in training camp a little bit and certainly in the first game, but we saw it much better in the last two games and finally it paid off for us today.”

Reto Berra

Avs goaltender Reto Berra was brilliant in his first match of the season, elevating his game while turning aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced. His athleticism and hard work was on display throughout the contest, including during a sliding blocker save on a Boston two-on-one chance late in the third period to keep the game tied at one apiece.

“He had a great training camp and just continues to play well. It was nice to see him make some good saves for us in the first period,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said after the match. “I think they had what, five or six good scoring chances in that first and he made those saves. It just gave us time to take the lead and it was good for us to play with the lead.”

Berra’s play in net—matched only by Boston’s goalie, Niklas Svedberg—was enough to set the Avalanche in motion.

“This afternoon, I should say, I thought we had good jump. We played a hard game,” said Roy. “It was a hard-fought game. Both teams I thought played really well. Both teams wanted to win badly.”

Colorado got on the board first, breaking a seven period scoring drought, after Jamie McGinn snuck a short-side shot from the faceoff circle past Svedberg and into the net. The relief that came with getting the tally was written all over the faces of the Avs, who continued to surge after that.

“It just came around the boards. I tried to keep it in,” said McGinn. “I was fortunate enough that it went in, but I think it’s a big goal for our team as a whole. Just to get the monkey off our back. A lot of credit to everyone. We’ve been working hard. We were happy as a whole to see it go in.”

Boston evened the game with a power-play goal during Colorado’s second bench-minor penalty for too many men on the ice during the middle frame, but the Avalanche continued fighting for that first win of the year.

With overtime rapidly approaching, the Avalanche went to work in the Boston zone, using speed and desperation to fuel its frenzy. The effort worked, as Danny Briere scored with less than a breath of air remaining in the contest to force the victory. The buzzer-beater was Briere’s 300th tally and first in an Avalanche sweater.

“It’s been a big relief, to be honest,” said Briere. “At the end, finding a loose puck like that, loose and in front of the net, it certainly feels good after the start that we had.

“We didn’t get the results that we wanted last game at home against Minnesota, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. When you’re in a little bit of a funk and you cheat a little bit, you’re not getting the results back.”

Roy was certainly please with the effort on the day, especially at the end when that never-say-die attitude from the Avalanche reared its beautiful head.

“You look at that shift, how hard they worked down low. It was fantastic. Danny and Nate (MacKinnon) and Alex (Tanguay), they kept that puck in and you never know what can happen,” said Roy. “There was what, less than 10-15 seconds when they start buzzing in their (Boston’s) end and 0.5 seconds sometimes is all you need.

“There’s a lot of strange things (that) happen in hockey but 0.5, there’s not much room for it.”

The Avalanche looked to go ahead in the third period on a goal credited to young Swede Dennis Everberg, but a meeting between officials resulted in a no-goal verdict that was upheld by the league after review.

The Eastern Conference road trip continues tomorrow night with a contest at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Being on the road this early in the season might be considered rough for some, but for Briere it is the perfect chance for the team to come together.

“I always love going on the road early in the season. Not even just with a new team but at any time,” he said. “You always have new players on the team. It’s fun getting everybody together, having some time, some meals together, getting to know each other a little better. Especially after the start that we had, it couldn’t come at a better time.”

The puck drops in Toronto at 5:30 p.m. MT.


Briere Not Bothered

Briere

Briere is one of many on the Avalanche roster that isn’t too concerned with Colorado’s slow start on the scoresheet. He knows that the makeup of the team is just too good for it not to come together. It just needs a little more elbow grease.

“There’s a lot of firepower. Even though we haven’t seen it in the goalscoring department all training camp and the first couple games, you can tell,” said Briere. “The practice, the passes, the way the guys skate, shoot the puck, that’s impressive. But at the same time, you know we got away a little bit from the work ethic. We thought maybe we have too much talent to work hard, and we paid the price for it in preseason and the first game.”

Briere scored his 300th goal, the game-winner, with less than a second remaining in the match. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first Avs player to do so. While his first tally may have come years ago with the then Phoenix Coyotes—in a 3-2 loss in 1998 against the Los Angeles Kings—he can still remember exactly how it went.

“I do. I do, certainly. A great feed from Mike Gartner. One of the all-time greats,” Briere said. “Something I’ll remember all my life.”


Wilson Injured

Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson was injured on Monday afternoon, playing in just one period before leaving the game.

“He got a puck in the face, and I think he had a concussion,” said Roy. “He’s probably not going to play tomorrow.”

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