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Bruins run win streak to 11 with shutout

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- There was no celebration and no evidence of the fact that the Boston Bruins were the first team to clinch a playoff spot.

The subdued room was a reflection of a team with bigger goals and a laser focus on keeping things in the moment.

If anything, the mood was further proof these Bruins are ready for the second season.

Goaltender Chad Johnson had 31 saves for his second shutout of the season and the red-hot Bruins won their 11th straight, 2-0 over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

The loss avenged Boston's only shutout loss of the season. Colorado beat the Bruins by the identical 2-0 score on Oct. 10 in Boston.

Centers Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg had a goal each and defenseman Dougie Hamilton had two assists for Boston, who overcame a sluggish first period to improve to 10-0-3 on the road since Jan. 14.

"Our team got better as the game went on," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "That's what we expected."

The 11-game win streak is the Bruins' longest since they won 13 in a row during the 1970-71 season. Boston (48-17-5) also became the first team to reach 100 points this season, and it reached that milestone for the fourth time under Julien.

The Bruins are 19-3-3 since Jan. 11 and clinched a playoff spot with the victory.

"That's not going to change our mindset," Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara said. "We still have to play our hockey and really focus on the little details going into the playoffs."

The Bruins got another strong start from Johnson, who is now 16-3-1 in 23 games. He got his third career shutout and first since Feb. 1 against Edmonton.

He had to turn away some good chances by Colorado to get the win and hand the Avalanche their first shutout of the season.

After Bergeron gave Boston a 1-0 lead at 5:12 of the first period, the Avalanche pressured Johnson after the ensuing faceoff. He made several saves to keep Colorado off the board.

In the second period, he stopped center Maxime Talbot on a breakaway and then made a shoulder save on defenseman Jan Hejda, who nearly tipped in a pass from center Matt Duchene.

"I can't remember that one," Johnson said of the save on Hejda. "They had some good chances in the second. I tried to be in position and make the saves."

The Avalanche did not cash in on two power plays, but the Bruins did on their first. Soderberg skated to the left faceoff dot and beat goalie Semyon Varlamov at 13:11 of the second period.

"They're kind of the Eastern (Conference) St. Louis," Duchene said. "They play a similar style. Those are the teams were going to have to beat if we want to win the Stanley Cup. It's a good measuring stick for us."

Varlamov came off for an extra attacker with 5:02 remaining in the third period and stayed there the rest of the game, but Colorado could not score on Johnson.

"Losing 2-0, 3-0, 4-0 -- we needed to score goals," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "There was no reason for me to wait because I thought we were doing so well offensively. We spent a lot of time in their zone and I felt comfortable. If they score with four minutes left in the game and make it 3-0, big deal."

Varlamov finished with 26 saves for the Avalanche, who are going through their toughest stretch of this surprising season. They are 1-3-1 in their last five games and have fallen three points behind Chicago for second place in the Central Division with 11 games remaining.

Things will not get easier for Colorado. Seven of those games are on the road and eight are against teams that are in or fighting for a playoff spot.

"I think it will prepare us very well for playoffs," Roy said of the remaining games. "I don't want to take anything for granted, but it will prepare us well. These games are tough games to play and I thought our guys were resilient."

NOTES: Boston D Johnny Boychuk missed his third straight game with a foot injury. ... Avalanche C John Mitchell sat out his second game in a row with a back injury suffered in Montreal on Tuesday. Colorado coach Patrick Roy said Mitchell is considered day to day but could be out as long as 10 more days. ... Boston entered Friday a plus-74 in goal differential, which is tops in the NHL. ... Avalanche C Paul Stastny returned to the lineup after sitting out the overtime loss to Winnipeg on Wednesday.

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