DENVER (NWN) – Bowen Byram scored his first NHL goal and added an assist, leading to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in the season opener for both teams on Wednesday night.
Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and assist for Colorado, who played without star center Nathan McKinnon and head coach Jared Bednar. Both are on COVID-19 protocol and outside the team.
Assistant Coaches Ray Bennett and Nolan Pratt led the team against Chicago.
Darcy Kuamper stopped 32 shots in his Avalanche debut and Jack Johnson added a goal.
Cuemper, acquired from Arizona in the offseason, failed early testing, but made two big saves at Kirby Bowers in the second period. Dach had a lead at 12:02, but Kuamper closed the blocks on his shot. A few minutes later he had another chance from the left circle, which was stopped by Kuamper.
Shortly thereafter, Bayram scored Qadri and put him ahead 4-1.
Colorado takes revenge on Chicago goalkeeper Marc-André Fleury for helping Vegas beat Avalanche in the 2020-21 playoffs second round. Fleury faced a barrage of shots early as Colorado scored 17 of their first 19 shots on goal.
Johnson, who formed the team on a professional trial contract, opened the score at 4:26 in the first period. Landeskog’s deflection in 1:22 later made the score 2-0, while Bayram scored in 9:34, putting Avalanche ahead three.
The Blackhawks found themselves on the board at the end of the first period when forward Dominic Kubalik scored a power play in 16:47, cutting Colorado’s lead to 3-1.
Connor Murphy scored a goal unaided at 15:13 in the third period. Chicago resumed the power play at 4:26 pm and pulled Fleury 6-on-4, but failed to score.
The Avalanche are hoping McKinnon and Bednar can return to play on Saturday night. Both are asymptomatic and could “pass the test,” according to general manager Joe Sakik.
NOTES: Striker Jason Megna has been recalled from the AHL to replace McKinnon. He centered the fourth line. … “Chicago” Jonathan Taves played his first game since the pandemic. He pulled out last season after being diagnosed with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome. … Colorado has shown 17-6-3 in its first home games since moving to Denver in 1995.
Blackhawks: At the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
Avalanche: Play the St. Louis Blues Saturday night.
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