So far, so good for Patrick Roy and the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche went on a duck hunt Wednesday night, pummeling the Anaheim Ducks 6-1 at the Pepsi Center (aka “The Can”) and injecting the home fans with a dose of thrilling hockey that had been missing from the Avs for three plus seasons. The debuts of head coach Patrick Roy, first pick Nathan MacKinnon, and even a new flashy jumbotron in The Can all added to a lively atmosphere in the arena, and the game itself did not disappoint.
Despite scoring six goals in the game, the first star for the Avalanche was goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov made several highlight saves and had 35 total to solidify an impressive start. Unlike last season where the Avalanche frequently struggled to score, Varlamov was rewarded with a victory after a spectacular performance.
The Avalanche struck first at 15:39 of the opening period after Ryan O’Reilly intercepted an errant pass at the Ducks’ blue line and whistled a shot past goaltender Viktor Fasth. Steve Downie, John Mitchell and Jamie McGinn all scored in the second period to extend the Avalanche lead and eliminate any realistic hopes for the Ducks to make a comeback in the third. McGinn added another at 11:14 of the third period and Matt Duchene netted a power play goal 2:28 seconds later to cap off the Avalanche onslaught. Rookie Jakob Silfverberg, acquired via the Bobby Ryan trade in the offseason, ruined Varlamov’s shutout campaign with seven seconds ticks left in the game.
MacKinnon assisted on both McGinn goals to record his first career NHL points. MacKinnon’s first assist came from a crafty backhanded pass from behind the goal, and his second came on a smooth feed to McGinn from the side of the net after receiving a pass from line mate P.A. Parenteau. MacKinnon looked plenty comfortable in his first game, unafraid to use his blistering speed to enter the offensive zone and even got feisty with Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy midway through the second period.
The intent of the Avalanche to play more physical this season was evident throughout as the Avs recorded 21 hits to the Ducks 13. McGinn led the way for the Avs with five and was a dominating physical force.
In the final seconds of the contest, Lovejoy found MacKinnon at the Avalanche blue line in what appeared to be a knee on knee collision. After the final face off a scrum developed in front of the Avalanche bench and Roy became furious at Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. Roy proceeded to pummel the glass partition that separates the team benches and the two coaches exchanged heated words. Roy was assesed a game misconduct for his actions.
Anyone sense a rivalry on the horizon?