DENVER - When Jake DeBrusk dropped to a knee and delivered his signature fist pump celebration early in the second period, things were looking quite bright for the Bruins. It was the winger's second goal of the game and gave Boston a two-goal lead over the Avalanche.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, it was the last bit of celebrating they would do on Wednesday night.
A two-goal advantage was not nearly enough against Colorado's high-octane first line as the Avalanche went on to score five unanswered goals - four in the third period - to cruise to a 6-3 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.
"I think in the third, no question about it," said Patrice Bergeron, when asked where things started to go astray. "I thought the first 40 was solid, we did a lot of good things. Obviously a lot of missed opportunities in the first, [hit four] posts and whatnot.
"That being said, in the second we were obviously up by two…the third got out of hand and we just didn't play the right way."
Video: BOS Recap: DeBrusk nets two in 6-3 loss to Avalanche
Colorado made it a one-goal game on Mikko Rantanen's power-play tally at 8:47 of the second and carried that momentum into the final 20 minutes. Matt Calvert tied things at 3 just 2:11 into the third, opening the floodgates for the Avs, who went on to score three more times, the latter two on the power play (Nathan MacKinnon at 9:02; Tyson Jost at 15:39; and Alexander Kerfoot at 19:45).
"Listen, I thought the second period if we got through that…there were some tough stretches, we got caught in our own end, we had to ice pucks, matchups went their way….some of it was self-inflicted," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "We're gonna talk about being down guys on the back end, of course that effects our hockey club.
"But some of those mistakes we could have helped ourselves. You need saves in those situations. Pucks were going through Jaro [Halak] tonight. We gave him a lead and that's where you hope he comes through for you when you're down guys as well.
"It certainly wasn't a shooting barrage out there tonight. We did a pretty good job of one-and-done, it's just those odd-man rushes against good players cost us and it usually will."
The Bruins also lost the battle of the first lines, as Colorado's top trio of Gabriel Landeskog, Rantanen, and MacKinnon chipped in a goal apiece and combined for 6 points. Boston's top line of Pastrnak (goal, assist), Bergeron (assist), and Brad Marchand teamed up for 3 points.
"They were matched up against a very good line that controls puck possession. They attack well," said Cassidy. "So I think it was a good matchup, it's been well talked about…there's probably a half dozen lines in the league that people talk about being the best in the league and they saw one tonight…at the end of the day their line came through for them in the third period and they get the win."
Video: Bergeron, DeBrusk, Grzelcyk, Halak speak after loss
It did not help that the Bruins were playing with five defensemen for much of the night. Zdeno Chara left the game late in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return.
"I don't have much. I don't know…I didn't really get a report," said Cassidy. "All they told me is that he's out for the rest of the night. Usually that takes a day to get looked at. Whether that's in Dallas or he has to go home, I have no idea. But I'm sure we'll have more news on it [Thursday]."
Boston is already down its entire right side, with Charlie McAvoy (concussion), Brandon Carlo (upper body), and Kevan Miller (hand) sidelined. Miller is with the team for the road trip, but is not expected to play until Wednesday in Detroit at the earliest. Rookie Urho Vaakanainen is also still recovering from a concussion.
"It's our whole right side for one thing. And now you're talking about your top guy on the left side," said Cassidy. "You've got your second guy on your left side, [Torey] Krug, is really still finding his game. He missed a lot of time. Pretty much got your whole D-corps out."
Video: Cassidy gives update on Chara, defense
Should Chara have to miss time, Jakub Zboril - who was recalled from Providence on Tuesday - would make his NHL debut in Dallas. That would leave the Bruins with two rookies (Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon) on the back end.
"We've got to be careful in terms of how we talk to that group," said Cassidy. "At the same token, it's their opportunity to play and we don't make excuses. Next guy that goes in there is gonna get a chance to play, whoever that is. Right now it's Zboril that's here, who's a left shot. It makes sense, we'll look at it again tomorrow.
"That's why he's here. He'll have to go in and obviously the group around him is gonna have to understand there's gonna be mistakes…our guys are gonna have to understand what we have out there and work together as a group of five."
DeBrusk Pots Two - Again
With his two-goal night - his third of the season - against Colorado, DeBrusk has now notched four goals and six points in his last five games. On his first goal, DeBrusk - who was all alone at the red line - took advantage of a MacKinnon turnover and surged in on Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov, finishing blocker side to give Boston a 2-1 lead with 40 seconds to play in the first.
"It was kind of a funky play," said DeBrusk, who has seven goals on the year. "I didn't know what happened, I just saw the puck kind of pop out. I was at the red line already so I had a good head start, just tried to make a quick move and obviously it was good to see it go in at that time."
DeBrusk's second goal of the night came on the power play, when he redirected a David Pastrnak slapper at the top of the crease to extend the Bruins' lead to 3-1 at 3:05 of the second.
Video: BOS@COL: DeBrusk beats Varlamov on breakaway
Pastrnak potted the Bruins first goal - on the power play - to knot the game with 3:17 left in the first. The tally gave him 17 goals in 18 games this season, which leads the NHL and ranks as the third-highest goal total - along with Peter McNab in 1975-76 - in Boston's first 18 games, behind Phil Esposito (20, 1973-73); Dit Clapper (18, 1929-30), Herb Cain (18, 1943-44).
Video: BOS@COL: Pastrnak buries slap pass for PPG