Krejci helps Bruins outlast Avalanche

DENVER (Ticker) — David Krejci made the Boston Bruins’ first
visit to Colorado in over two seasons a successful one.

Krejci snapped a tie with 2:36 remaining in the third period and
the Bruins hung on to post a 5-4 victory over the Colorado
Avalanche in the season opener for both teams on Thursday.

Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler, Marc Savard and Michael Ryder also
tallied for the Bruins, who improved to 7-20-5 in season openers
on the road. Boston was visiting Colorado for the first time
since December 7, 2005.

Patrice Bergeron – who was playing for the first time since last
October 27 due to a concussion – and Chuck Kobasew each notched
a pair of assists while Tim Thomas made 35 saves for Boston,
which halted a five-game winless streak (0-4-1) in
season-opening games.

“We found a way to win,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We
scored some goals. There are certain areas of our game that
maybe we’re not as pleased, but we managed to score five goals,
and that was something that was a bit of a struggle for us last

Milan Hejduk, Wojtek Wolski, Cody McLeod and defenseman Jordan
Leopold netted goals for the Avalanche, who lost a home opener
at the Pepsi Center for the first time (6-1-2).

With neither team able to gain a two-goal advantage and the
contest appearing destined for a shootout, Krejci gave Boston
its fourth and final lead of the night late in the third,
sweeping the puck past goaltender Peter Budaj from the left side
of the net.

“We just battled in the corner,” Krejci said. “We got the puck
behind the net and I set up Chuck in the slot. He made a nice
pass to me. I just shot it and hoped it would go through.”

The Bruins were forced to hold on for dear life as the Avalanche
received a power play with 1:41 remaining. But even with Budaj
pulled for an extra attacker, Colorado was unable to get the
equalizer, registering just two shots during the two-man

“When we score five goals and we keep battling back, it makes me
want to keep trying harder, especially after the fourth goal (by
Colorado), which was a bad rebound on my part,” Thomas said. “I
was really happy when we got that fifth goal, and I wanted to
close it out.”

“It was nice to be able to get a win,” Julien said. “That was
the important thing. Hopefully by game 82, we’ll forget how we
won this one.”

Budaj, who finished with 15 saves, was disappointed with both
the winning goal and the loss.

“It was a tough bounce for us, a good bounce for them,” the
Slovakian said. “That’s the way it goes. … It was a tough
loss. Sometimes you win the games you should have lost and lose
the games you should have won.”

Signed as a free agent over the summer, Ryder scored his 100th
career goal 5:36 into the third period to give Boston a 4-3
lead. After Savard beat defenseman John-Michael Liles to the
puck on a dump-in, he made a backhand pass to Ryder, who beat
Budaj from the bottom of the right faceoff circle.

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But Leopold knotted the game with 9:43 left, grabbing a rebound
in the slot and beating Thomas to the glove side.

Kessel opened the scoring 6:21 into the contest, when he beat
Budaj to the glove side with a wrist shot from the slot
following a turnover along the left wing boards. After Budaj
denied Bergeron’s breakaway chance, Hejduk tapped in a pass from
behind the net by Paul Stastny during a power play at 10:02 to
even the game.

Making his NHL debut, Wheeler answered 49 seconds later with a
wrister from the slot off a feed from Kobasew. The 22-year-old,
who was drafted fifth overall by Phoenix in 2004, signed with
Boston as a free agent on July 1.

“It was a dream-come-true night for me. You couldn’t have wrote
it any better,” Wheeler said. “Chuck and Krejci made
unbelievable plays on that goal. Krejci held onto it, froze the
goalie and gave it right back to me. I knew the goalie was
sliding, so I threw it at his feet and found a hole.

“Those two guys made the play happen. I just kind of got in the
right spot.”

Thomas robbed Joe Sakic with a right pad save with eight minutes
to go and the Bruins successfully killed a 5-on-3 disadvantage
that lasted 1 minute, 56 seconds. But the Avalanche managed to
knot the contest at 2-2 with 5:08 left in the first, when Wolski
poked in a loose puck from the right side just seven seconds
after the power play expired.

Colorado took its first lead at 3-2 just over 6 1/2 minutes into
the middle session. After Thomas stopped a shot by Sakic,
McLeod put the rebound between the netminder’s pads from the
left side.

Starting his 20th season in the NHL, all with the Colorado
franchise, Sakic notched an assist for his 27th career point in
season openers – tying Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky for third
place on the all-time list. Former Bruin great Ray Bourque and
Jaromir Jagr each recorded 30 points in season-opening games.

The Avalanche’s lead did not last long, however, as Savard
deflected captain Zdeno Chara’s slap shot from the top of the
slot past Budaj for a power-play goal at 10:43.

Liles registered two assists for Colorado, which outshot Boston,
20-5, in the first period.

“That first period, I thought we played real well,” Sakic said.
“Thomas made some big saves. … I thought Thomas was the first
star out there. He was pretty good.”

“You have to give (Thomas) credit,” Leopold added. “He played
well and they did what they had to do.”