DENVER - Ultimately, the Bruins are returning home with plenty to be happy about.
After a four-game, nine-day road trip to open the 2019-20 campaign, the Black & Gold packed away six out of eight points and a 3-1-0 record.
But they left the Pepsi Center on Thursday night feeling an opportunity had slipped through their hands. Boston opened up a two-goal first-period lead against the Avalanche and had two more goals wiped off the board in an eventual 4-2 loss.
"Obviously frustrating to lose the last game," said David Krejci. "We felt like we had a good start. Just a couple tough bounces. Overall six out of eight points is not bad. We feel in here that we easily could have had eight."
If not for two borderline video reviews, they very well might have.
Video: BOS Recap: Pastrnak, Bruins fall to Avs in Colorado
Ahead, 2-1, early in the second period after goals by David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara, the Bruins appeared to have doubled their lead once again with a strong effort from the second line. Jake DeBrusk wheeled around the Colorado net and found Karson Kuhlman in the slot. Kuhlman stopped the feed with his skate and wristed one by Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer to put Boston up 3-1.
The lead, however, was short-lived. The Avalanche challenged for goalie interference and after review, it was determined that David Krejci had hindered Grubauer's ability to stop the shot by being in the crease.
"The goalie interference as it was explained to us, it was going to be egregious calls," Cassidy said of his discussions with the league before the season. "That's what the challenge was for. Didn't look egregious to me. But that's what they call, that's what they call."
Colorado went on to tie the game at 2 at 9:43 of the second, setting up some more frustration for the Black & Gold. Boston received a power play with 19 seconds remaining in the middle frame and came into the third with a chance to regain the lead, which they did - briefly.
Pastrnak delivered a nifty behind-the-back feed to DeBrusk, who roofed a wrister by Grubauer to make it 3-2. But Colorado challenged for offside and following another review, the goal was negated after it was determined that Pastrnak's skate entered the Avalanche zone just before Patrice Bergeron carried the puck in - all well over a minute before DeBrusk's tally.
"Of course [it's frustrating]," said DeBrusk, who had his first assist and goal of the season wiped from the record. "Any time that you get production finally and it gets taken away from you twice, it's just one of those things where you almost don't believe it. But at the same time that's how things are going for me.
"I scored and had an assist tonight, they got pulled back. We should've won this game 4-2, but those weren't goals, I guess. One was offside and goalie interference. They looked at it and that's how it was. I don't think it's gonna snowball, but definitely pissing me off for sure."
Video: DeBrusk speaks after tough loss in Denver
The Avalanche took advantage of their good fortune and grabbed a 3-2 lead on Andre Burakovsky's goal with 7:06 remaining. Gabriel Landeskog then added an empty-netter with 1:01 to go.
"We played hard, we battled," said Jaroslav Halak, who made 32 saves on 35 shots. "This is a tough building to come in and play. I thought for the most part we did a good job playing hard. Just a hard way to end the road trip when two goals were taken away from us. But can't really focus on that, we've got to put it behind us and take the positives and get ready for Saturday."
The Bruins now return to Causeway Street to kick off their home schedule against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. And it's likely that by then - with the frustration worn away - they'll be quite pleased with how the first week of the regular season unfolded.
"We're in a results-oriented business, we won three games, we lost one," said Cassidy. "Again, today you can argue that it might have been one of our better ones in a lot of ways. We're always going to look at that, talk about what we did well…we're no different than everyone else. Just keep building our game."
No one was more frustrated with having goals taken off the board than DeBrusk, who had been held scoreless through the first three games. Ultimately, however - as Cassidy pointed out - it's a night the young winger will have to use as a learning experience.
"He had a good game," said Cassidy, while also pointing out a breakdown on Colorado's winner. "He set up Kuhlman, they don't count that one. He gets his first, they don't count that one. I could see where you're gonna get frustrated. At the end of the day, you've got to keep playing and that's where that last goal was a couple of breakdowns.
"It wasn't just him. We didn't defend the rush well, we fell down on the rush, good shot. At the end of the day, that's where you grow in this league, by recognizing that you still push through and give it what you've got."
With Kuhlman's goal erased, the second line is still searching for its first goal of the season.
"We know there's some room to improve…felt like it was coming along, but some parts of the game, as my line, we weren't sharp enough," said Krejci, who picked up his first point of the year with an assist on Pastrnak's first-period tally.
"We have to be better next time…I thought with the puck we made lots of things happen today which is always nice. But good offense starts from good defense.
"We did that for some part of the game, but we've got to keep it up for a full 60 minutes. I feel like as a line we haven't done that. We have to work on that."
Video: Bruins react to first loss of season
After missing the first three games due to a foot injury, Joakim Nordstrom made his season debut playing alongside Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner on Boston's fourth line. The winger landed three shots on goal and two hits in 11:05 of ice time, while helping to keep Colorado's top line in check for much of the night.
"Good, lots of legs, lots of energy," said Cassidy. "The battles will be the toughest part to get back, get used to game situations. I thought he was fine, part of that line that did a good job against three good hockey players."