BOSTON -- It could have been a night of excuses for the Boston Bruins.
After losing 2-0 to a young and talented Colorado Avalanche team Thursday night at TD Garden, the Bruins weren't about to make any. They could have blamed the four days off between games as the reason they were rusty during the first period. The Bruins could have blamed a few questionable calls by the referees as the reason for their demise.
They didn't. Well, not completely.
The Avalanche simply were the better team. Backed by a 39-save shutout performance from veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Colorado improved to 4-0-0 this season. The Avalanche scored a power-play goal late in the first period and added an empty-netter in the closing seconds of regulation en route to victory.
"I don't think you have to overreact after a game like this," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I don't think our guys gave a poor effort, but we know we can be better."
It didn't help Boston's chances after top-line winger Milan Lucic was given a 10-minute misconduct with 50.3 seconds remaining in the second period and Colorado holding onto a 1-0 lead.
The Bruins' David Krejci created a quality scoring chance and after Giguere made the save, a scrum ensued. Lucic and Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog got tangled up. Landeskog had Lucic in a headlock and Lucic lost his temper.
"It was a grab from behind in the face, just an altercation," Lucic said. "I bet you if I would've pushed [Patrick] Bordeleau at the end of it I don't get 10 minutes. It is what it is."
Lucic clearly wanted to drop the gloves, but Landeskog wouldn't bite.
"I was fired up and unfortunately I got 10 minutes for it," said Lucic, who added he was not given an explanation for the misconduct and was livid when asked about it after the game.
"I didn't hear one, so I didn't get one. If someone pushed me like that at the end of an altercation I would highly doubt they would've got 10 minutes," he said.
Julien wasn't happy with an embellishment call on forward Loui Eriksson after he was hooked at 11:20 of the third period.
"I don't know why they called me on that," Eriksson said. "He was holding me and I couldn't do anything so I don't know. It was kind of a stupid call by him."
Between that call, and the fact Lucic was in the box for half of the third period, Julien still wouldn't completely blame the refs.
"You're not going to win that war whether you complain about it or not," Julien said. "The other guy's still chirping at [Lucic], so he gives him a shot and the referees decide he's going to be taking the 10. It's certainly not what you want as a coach. An important player like that you want him on the ice, but I thought it was a bit soft, to be honest with you."
Julien admitted he wasn't disappointed with the effort, but the Bruins are a team built on finding ways to win these types of games. They just came up a bit short.
"You run into a hot goaltender, you run into a team that's been playing well and they did," Julien said. "They've got good speed and we've talked about that for the last couple of days. It's one of those things where you really got to grind it out some nights because goals don't come easy. What we had to do was get a little bit more traffic in front of a hot goaltender and take his eyes away. We didn't do a good enough job of that."
For Giguere, it was his 37th career shutout and first against the Bruins. It's evident, even this early in the season, that the Avalanche players are responding to new coach and Hall of Famer Patrick Roy and his legendary intensity.
"The whole mentality is changing, our whole attitude," Giguere said. "We seem to believe in ourselves a little bit more. It's just a different voice and guys seem to be responding well to it right now."
Prior to Thursday's game, Roy called this a measuring stick for his young team, and the Avalanche did enough to earn the victory. When asked how it felt to beat the Bruins as a coach, the former Montreal Canadiens goaltender turned the attention to his team.
"It's just nice to win a hockey game. That's how I look at it," he said. "I have nothing against the Bruins. After a lot of years in Montreal it was a great rivalry and everybody enjoyed those games. It was easy to get into those games, but today we just want to get the respect back and play good hockey."
The Bruins have become perennial winners and are considered one of the top teams in the NHL, so they're going to face their opponent's best game each and every night. That's what they got from the Avalanche.
"You build that reputation and you're proud of it, so you've got to face it every night," Julien said. "It forces you to play your best every night and so far it's helped us become a better team at the end of the year when all the games are on the line, we're used to playing against the best of every team. In a way it serves us well. We're not in this game to look for easy games. We expect a challenge every night and that's what we're going to get."
The Avalanche gave it to them Thursday night -- no excuses needed.