With the seconds ticking down toward overtime — and the crowd assuming more hockey was in its future — a rather diminutive figure positioned himself just outside the crease. Daniel Briere stood as the puck found him, as he maneuvered around Niklas Svedberg, as he found a home for the puck and a win for the Avalanche in the back of the Bruins net.
There were 0.5 seconds on the clock.
“They kept that puck in and you never know what can happen,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said after his team’s 2-1 win Monday at TD Garden. “Less than 10-15 seconds when they start buzzing in their end and 0.5 seconds is sometimes all you need.”
The Bruins were scrambling in that final minute, hoping to make it as far as the extra session, with Svedberg doing his best to get them there. The Avalanche had fired the puck on net but been stymied. Until they weren’t.
“I didn’t see the guy behind me, so I just got too high,” defenseman Matt Bartkowski said. “They get a shot through and what happens, happens. You see what happens. But I should have been lower there.”
Said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who was also on the ice, “Everybody has their task and their position and [should] be with their guy. It was just a scrambly play and blown coverage and they scored.”
The goal — Colorado’s second of the game, after being shut out in its first two games of the season — sent the Bruins to a 1-3-0 start in a season that they expect to last deep in the playoffs. It was their third consecutive loss in regulation, something they didn’t do all of last season.
“I think the mistakes we’re making now, a lot of them end up in the back of our net,” coach Claude Julien said. “So it’s not the amount, it’s the types of mistakes that we’re making that’s got to be better. Like on that last goal, there’s no time left, you can’t lose track of somebody behind you. And we did. So it’s in our net.”
It was, in the end, a better game for Boston. With the return of David Krejci, Julien had more skill to work with in the offensive end and more depth to his four lines. The Bruins had more quality scoring chances, especially in the third period, and more consistency.
So the Bruins did their best to take the positives that they could out of the game, to regard it as a step forward for a team currently foundering. Still, Julien called it “a bitter pill to swallow right now.” Because no matter how much better the team was, it didn’t get a win.
“I think it’s a matter of confidence right now,” Seidenberg said. “It’s just us believing in ourselves that we can win hockey games. Right now we’re gripping our sticks a little tight. It’s not the way we want to start, but I think we played a good game today. We have to take that positive out of it and build on that.”
Colorado had struck first, helped by a soft goal allowed by Svedberg at 3:28 of the second period. Jamie McGinn’s shot slipped in, with Svedberg unable to seal the post.
The Avalanche nearly had scored again, too, with what would have been the tiebreaker coming at 7:13 of the third period. An official had signaled that the goal was good. But after a consultation, officials changed the ruling on the ice, believing that the puck had been deflected into the goal with a high stick. Video review was inconclusive, so the decision on the ice stood.
Before the disallowed goal, the Bruins tied the score on the power play — not exactly an area of strength this season — at 7:50 of the second. Reilly Smith had the initial shot on net, with Carl Soderberg getting the rebound and passing to Loui Eriksson, who waited just long enough for goalie Reto Berra to move his pads enough to sneak the puck in the net.
It was the only time they’d finish on their chances all game.
“There’s no doubt we need better finish,” Julien said. “But we just played a team on the other side that’s got a ton of it and they’ve scored two goals in three games. So it’s not necessarily unique, but at the same time I think it’s early in the season and we’ve got to find our game.
“Right now, a lot of guys are forcing things. That could be because of the situation we’re in. We’ve got to stop forcing things and make them happen. I thought we had better net-front presence this afternoon. I thought our guys did a better job of that. But the finish, whether it’s around the net or on our opportunities, has to get better.”
The team, after all, has scored just four goals in four games. That’s a difficult way to win in the NHL.
“We’ve got to capitalize on our opportunities,” winger Brad Marchand said. “It seems like, right now, we’re a step behind or our passes just aren’t clicking right now. If we want to compete and be a good team in this league, we have to find a way to keep up the play, make plays, and score goals.
“Right now, one goal a game is definitely not going to cut it.”