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Avalanche 4, Bruins 3 (OT)

The Bruins couldn’t hold off an Avalanche rally, then they lost in overtime

Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (center) fights to control the puck while driving between Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (left) and center Alex Newhook in the second period.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Canadian-born Cale Makar, made in Massachusetts in his days on the UMass-Amherst backline, made the Bruins miserable Wednesday night in Denver with his goal 3:01 into overtime that handed the Avalanche a 4-3 comeback win over the Bruins at Ball Arena.

The victory extended Colorado’s win streak on home ice to 17 games and dropped the Bruins record to 10-3-1 in January.

After carrying a 3-1 lead into the third, backed by a three-goal scoring flurry in the middle period by Jake DeBrusk, Charlie Coyle, and Brad Marchand, the Bruins booted away the win amid a tumbling avalanche in which Colorado outshot them, 21-7, over the final 23 minutes.


“Good teams are going to have those pushes,” said Coyle, whose power-play goal in the second provided the 2-1 lead. “It’s up to us — I know we’re a good team — to push back on the next shift. Whoever’s up next has to sway it in our favor … play simple … put the puck behind them and make them go back for it. And then we kinda turn the tide that way.”

But there was no turning back the Avalanche, who lead the NHL in points percentage (.768) with their 30-8-3 record and increasingly look as though they’ll carry the West banner into the Stanley Cup Final.

Sam Girard cut it to 3-2 with 8:15 remaining in regulation and Gabriel Landeskog sent it into overtime when he connected for the equalizer at 19:23 with Darcy Kuemper (29 saves) pulled from the Avalanche net.

Not even three years removed from the UMass campus, Makar ended it with Colorado skating a 4-on-3 power play in the OT after Mike Reilly had been sent off for tripping. Makar, with no one pressuring him above the left wing circle, took advantage of a Landeskog screen in front and buried his snap wrister by Linus Ullmark’s glove hand.


‘I’d rather not — I think everyone saw it on TV,” said Ullmark, when asked to describe what he saw on Makar’s closing goal. “And the replays after it on TV ... so I don’t think I have to go through it.”

The loss ended a string of seven wins in seven starts for Ullmark. Despite getting tagged with the loss, he had a strong night, turning away 19 of 20 shots through 40:00, then stung three times on the 21 shots he faced across the third and OT.

Their game with little room to breathe over the last two weeks, the Bruins pumped home the three goals in a span of 6:21 in the middle period to carry a 3-1 lead into the third.

DeBrusk started it off with a 4-on-4 strike for the equalizer at 7:10, finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Coyle. Charlie McAvoy started the play up ice with a pass from his own zone and DeBrusk finished it off for his 10th this season.

The Avalanche fell in penalty trouble, and it cost them, first with Coyle’s 5-on-3 strike, and then with Marchand’s 21st this season, only two seconds after the last of Colorado’s penalties expired.

Linus Ullmark played well but yielded a pair of late goals, including this one off the stick of Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog that tied the score at three in third period.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Girard was first off at 10:29 for roughing and then Jack Johnson followed him, guilty of smacking Taylor Hall with multiple crosschecks in open view exactly one minute later at 11:29.

Only 47 seconds into the two-man advantage, after McAvoy drilled a one-timer on Kuemper, Coyle popped home a doorstep backhander for the 2-1 lead.


The Bruins returned to work with a 5-on-4 advantage, only to push the lead to 3-1 when Marchand knocked home his team-leading 21st of the season only two seconds after the Avalanche returned to even strength.

McAvoy picked up assists on both the DeBrusk and Coyle strikes, improving his scoring line to 1-6-7 over the last seven games. He also improved his season career total to 21 — his fifth season to reach the 20-helper plateau.

Kurtis MacDermid, whose dad Paul played long ago with the Forever .500 Hartford Whalers, pushed the Avalanche to the 1-0 lead at 11:25 of the first with what was only the second shot of the night on Ullmark.

MacDermid, who entered the league as a free agent signee of the LA Kings, snapped home a 40-foot wrister for his first goal in an Avalanche uniform.

For the fifth consecutive game, the Bruins gave up the game-opening goal. Not a prescription for success. They broke even (2-2-0) in the four previous games, but on average were upside down on the scoreboard, with the opposition holding nearly a 5:1 advantage in lead time (118:55 vs. 24:57). Despite the loss to the Avalanche, they had the best of the clock, leading 27:07 to Colorado’s 18:35.

Only 2:22 into the first, the Avalanche lost star forward Nathan MacKinnon as a result of a fly-by hit by Taylor Hall in open ice. Hall swiped across the front of McKinnon, leading to MacKinnon’s own stick riding up and clipping him near the mouth, which resulted in a pool of blood forming on the ice around the felled Colorado forward.


Initially, based on the violent-looking nature of the collision, the officiating crew whistled a 5:00 major on Hall. But after a video review, the penalty was reduced to a 2:00 interference minor. Truth was, the hit was clean, the injury unfortunate, and Hall should not have had to serve any time in the penalty box.

There was no official word on the nature of MacKinnon’s injury, but he was finished for the night, after logging only 56 seconds across two shifts.

Coach Bruce Cassidy clearly sounded frustrated by his club’s inability to mute the Avalanche push in the third.

“It becomes fatigue after a while,” he said. “If you do execute and play in their end a little bit, put some stress on them, you are not expending energy. So if you are constantly defending against big forwards — and they have a big group — you are going to get tired. So some of it was on us early, and we got away with it. You’ve got to be able to make plays sometimes when they’re there.”

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com.