Byram gets first NHL goal, Avalanche beat Blackhawks 4-2
DENVER (AP) — The veteran defenseman got Colorado started, the 20-year-old rookie chipped in with a milestone goal and the Avalanche began their Stanley Cup quest with a victory.
Bowen Byram, Colorado’s youngest player at 20 years, 4 months, scored his first NHL goal and added an assist, and 34-year-old Jack Johnson also scored to lead the short-handed Avalanche over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night.
Johnson is eight days older than his teammate Darren Helm and made an immediate impact by scoring the first goal.
“Age was just a number,” Johnson stated. “I’m young at heart.”
Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which played without star center Nathan MacKinnon and head coach Jared Bednar. Both are in the COVID-19 protocol and away from the club. Nolan Pratt and Ray Bennett were the assistant coaches.
” We’ve been in touch with Jared and he’s done some work,” Bennett stated. It’s just a matter of taking Jared’s responsibilities and splitting them among Nolan and I .”
Kuemper was acquired in the offseason from Arizona but wasn’t tested until the second period. He made two important saves on Kirby Dach. Dach had a breakaway at 12: 02, but Kuemper closed the pads on his shot. Kuemper was unable to stop Dach’s wide-open shot from the left circle minutes later.
“If you score those, it might be an entirely different game,” Dach stated. “That’s on you. “That’s on me.
Colorado got a measure of revenge against Chicago goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who helped Vegas beat the Avalanche in the second round of the 2020-21 playoffs. Fleury was faced with a torrent of pucks as Colorado had 17 the first 19 goals.
Johnson opened scoring at 4: 26 in the first period. Landeskog’s deflection 1 22 made it 2-0. Byram scored at 9 34, putting the Avalanche three points ahead.
” It’s something that you have been dreaming about for a while — and it’s also nice to get away from the way, take the pressure off,” stated Byram, who was born four days after Colorado won 2001 Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks got on the board late in the first period when forward Dominik Kubalik scored on the power play at 16: 47, cutting the Avalanche’s lead to 3-1.
Connor Murphy scored an unassisted goal at 15: 13 of the third period. Chicago went on the power play at 16: 26 and pulled Fleury for a 6-on-4 advantage, but couldn’t score.
” We got better as we played, but it was hard to get out of a hole,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton stated. We need to improve. We will get better. We’ve got good players and the stuff that happened is very correctable.”
Colorado hopes MacKinnon will be able to return for Saturday’s game. General manager Joe Sakic said that both are “testing out” and are not symptomatic.
NOTES – Jayson Megna, Avalanche forward, was recalled from AHL to take MacKinnon’s place. He was the center of the fourth line. Chicago C Jonathan Toews was the first player to play since the pandemic. After being diagnosed with chronic immuno response syndrome, he opted out of the last season. … Colorado is 17-6-3 in home openers since moving to Denver in 1995.
Blackhawks: At the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
Avalanche – Saturday Night: St. Louis Blues.
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