DENVER — The Bruins lost to the Avalanche in the shootout on Wednesday night, 3-2, when Nathan MacKinnon put the only puck past Tuukka Rask.
But the Bruins really lost the game at the end of the first and third periods.
In the third, the Bruins were protecting a 2-1 lead. They were less than two minutes away from the win. But with Semyon Varlamov off for an extra skater, the Bruins’ top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Craig Cunningham couldn’t get the puck out of the defensive zone. With 1:45 remaining, Ryan O’Reilly tied it up at 2-2.
It didn’t help the Bruins that they were heavy-legged. They beat Dallas on the road the night before, 3-1. They arrived in Denver early on Wednesday morning. Then they had to kill six power plays, including a pair of five-on-threes.
“Those penalties took their toll on us,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It seemed like we weren’t going to get too many power plays in the first two periods. It’s too bad. It was such a close game. To have a [6-2] edge on us on the power play is unbelievable. There were some blatant missed calls out there. It’s getting frustrating. At the end of the day, your guys work hard. They kill penalties. But at the end of the day, they get burnt out and run out of gas at the end.”
The Bruins had a similar breakdown at the end of the first. The Bruins were 0.4 seconds away from entering first intermission in a scoreless game. But in the last second, former teammate Jarome Iginla beat Rask to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. Rask stopped a bad-angle Alex Tanguay shot. But the rebound skittered out front to Iginla, who rammed it home as time expired. It was Iginla’s team-leading 14th goal.
Video replay confirmed that 0.4 seconds remained on the clock when Iginla’s shot crossed the line. It was the second straight period the Bruins allowed a last-second goal to the Avalanche. On Oct. 13, Daniel Briere scored in the final second of regulation at TD Garden to give Colorado a 2-1 win.
The Bruins scored two straight goals to wipe out Iginla’s strike. The Bruins, down 1-0 after 20 minutes, tied it at 6:18 of the second period. Lucic started the play by carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Lucic connected with David Pastrnak, who was posting up at the offensive blue line.
As Pastrnak wound up for a slap shot, Lucic broke for the front of the net. Pastrnak’s slapper deflected off Lucic and skittered toward the far post. Torey Krug broke for the puck and snapped it into the net before Varlamov could recover and slide to his right.
The Bruins were fortunate not to go down later in the second, when they ran into penalty problems. Their issues started at 9:34, when Rask flipped the puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty. With 21 seconds remaining on Rask’s penalty, Adam McQuaid also sent the puck over the glass, putting the Bruins down two men.
The Bruins killed off Colorado’s five-on-three power play. But before McQuaid could exit the penalty box, Kevan Miller was forced to hook down Cody McLeod as the Colorado forward drove to the net with the puck. Miller’s penalty gave the Avalanche a 43-second five-on-three power play.
Once again, the Bruins killed off the penalty, led by Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Through two periods, the Bruins were 4 for 4 on the penalty kill. They allowed just five man-up shots on goal in 6:58 of shorthanded time. The night before, the Bruins were 6 for 6 on the penalty kill in their 3-1 win over Dallas.
At 4:47 of the third period, Brad Marchand busted a 1-1 tie. Marchand, just over the boards in a shift change, entered the offensive zone when David Krejci gave him a soft backhand dish. An in-stride Marchand ripped a wrister past Varlamov to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
It was Marchand’s team-leading 13th goal. Marchand didn’t play in the two previous games because he was suspended for slew-footing Derick Brassard.
“It’s definitely disappointing considering we were up with a couple minutes left,” Marchand said. “But we did get a point. It could have been worse. We couldn’t have gotten any.
“Going into the break, we’ve got to be happy with how we’ve battled back into a playoff position. We’re playing pretty good hockey. Hopefully we can go into this break and come out of it playing good hockey.”
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.