BOSTON – The Colorado Avalanche are enjoying an unexpectedly strong start. The Boston Bruins are surprising for another reason.
David Jones scored a short-handed goal to lift the Avalanche over the Bruins 4-3 on Monday, sending the top team in the Eastern Conference last season to its third loss in five games.
Marek Svatos had a tiebreaking, power-play goal midway into the second period and Milan Hejduk and Scott Hannan also scored for the Avalanche (3-1-1).
“It sounds like you’re surprised,” Colorado goalie Craig Anderson said when asked about his team’s record. “One game at a time. That’s been what we pride ourselves in. They’re a great team. They weren’t the best team in the East last year for no reason. They found a way to win the last game. The puck didn’t have the same lightning tonight.”
For the second straight game, Boston needed a rally, but this one fell short.
The Bruins cut it to 4-3 when Michael Ryder scored on a backhander out of a scramble with 13:36 left, but there was no comeback like Saturday night when they scored three goals in the closing 8:01 before beating the Islanders in a shootout.
Boston coach Claude Julien was perplexed.
“I can’t get in their heads,” he said a few times during his post-game press conference. “There’s a time where you’re working hard and getting chances, looking like the old team, and then you shoot yourselves in the foot.”
The Bruins were the Eastern Conference’s top team last year during the regular season before losing to Carolina in the second round of the playoffs.
“You can’t just go out there and win games just by playing all right,” defenceman Mark Stuart said. “It’s a competitive league.”
Anderson made 29 saves for Colorado.
Mark Recchi and Blake Wheeler also scored for Boston (2-3), which closed its season-opening homestand.
After squandering an early 2-0 lead, Colorado regained the lead on Svatos’ goal at 13:32 of the second period when banged home a rebound from the edge of the crease.
About three minutes later, Jones collected a loose puck at centre ice, skated in alone and beat goalie Tuukka Rask with a wrister to the glove side to make it 4-2.
“It’s a great win on the road against one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.
The Bruins got a power play in the final five minutes but were unable to get a shot on goal.
The Avalanche took a lead in the first period on goals by Hejduk and Hannan 37 seconds apart in the opening 6:52.
“To come back from the 2-0 deficit, we were feeling very good about ourselves,” Wheeler said. “We’re doing that too many times.”
Hejduk scored on the power-play off the rebound of Kyle Quincey’s shot, giving Colorado power-play scores in each of its five games this season. It’s the Avalanche’s longest stretch to open a season since they had power-play scores in nine straight to begin 1997-98.
Hannan, a defenceman, raced in for a rebound and slipped a shot into a wide-open net after Rask shifted to his left to block Jones’ shot from the circle.
Rask, making his second consecutive start, stopped 18 shots.
The Bruins tied it 2-2 on scores by Recchi and Wheeler midway into the second period.
NOTES: Hejduk and Quincey have points in all of Colorado’s games so far. … Bruins D Dennis Wideman, who left Saturday’s game in the second period with what Julien called “an upper body injury” did not play. He’s listed as day-to-day. … The Avalanche recalled D Ryan Wilson from the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters before the game, but he was a healthy scratch. … Colorado is in the middle of a seven-game road trip, third longest in franchise history. … It’s the teams’ only meeting this season.