DENVER CO - OCTOBER 7: John-Michael Liles #4 and Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche close in on Marty Turco #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks as a shot by Paul Stastny (not pictured) trickles past Turco in overtime during both team's season openers at the Pepsi Center on October 7 2010 in Denver Colorado. The Avalanche won the game 4-3 in overtime on the shot by Statsny. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since October 7, 2010
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Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Paul Stastny scored the game-winning goal 3:40 into overtime to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the season-opener for both teams at Pepsi Center.
Stastny also scored in regulation along with Chris Stewart and Matt Duchene for the Avalanche, who qualified as the No. 8 seed in the West in last season's playoffs but were ousted by the San Jose Sharks in six games in the first round.
"It's good to start the season with a win," said Stastny. "We had to create our own chances and we wanted to get the victory."
Craig Anderson allowed three goals on 38 shots in the win.
Brian Bickell, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp scored for Chicago. In June, the Blackhawks won the Cup for the first time since 1961 when they defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. Patrick Kane scored the series- clinching goal in overtime, while the other Chicago offensive star, Jonathan Toews, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the postseason.
Salary cap issues forced Chicago to alter a decent portion of its roster in the offseason. Gone from the group that won the title are Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg and John Madden.
Goaltender Antti Niemi, who won all 16 of Chicago's playoff game last spring, was not brought back after he was awarded $2.75 million in arbitration. That paved the way for Chicago to ink Marty Turco to a one-year deal.
Turco, who played for a decade with the Dallas Stars, finished with 37 saves.
"We battled it out," said Turco. "They have good skill players and they rushed the net well. It's only one game into the season and we're not going to hang our heads. We will improve."
In overtime, Duchene held control along the goal line to the right of the net and slid a pass to Stastny, whose wrist shot from the low slot hit Turco and trickled over the goal line as the Avs and their fans celebrated the win.
"I saw the shot -- it hit me twice and then it slid in," Turco said.
The Blackhawks grabbed an early lead with a power-play goal 4:37 into the game. Moments after Stastny nearly poked in a short-handed attempt at the bottom of the left circle, the visitors went the other way and set up in their offensive zone. Hossa held the puck inside the left circle and passed across the slot for Bickell, who settled the disc on his stick and fired a snap shot past Anderson from the right circle.
With 3:30 to play in the opening period, the Avs knotted the score. A failed pass across the blue line by the Chicago defense pair led to a loose puck in the neutral zone. Stewart gained control and raced down the left-wing side on a 2-on-1. Stewart deked around defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, moved in alone and chipped the puck over Turco from the top of the crease.
The visitors nearly moved ahead just over five minutes into the second period while skating on the power play. Kane and Toews worked a give-and-go inside the left circle and Toews had an open look, but his wrist shot hit the far post.
Shortly after that, Colorado grabbed a 2-1 lead. Adam Foote accepted a pass along the right half-wall and wound up for what appeared to be a potential shot on goal. Instead, Foote slid the disc into the slot, and Duchene redirected it past Turco at 6:13. It was Duchene's hooking minor that expired 28 seconds earlier.
The Avs built a two-goal advantage at the 13:51 mark of the second. On the ensuing faceoff after Brent Seabrook was whistled for a boarding minor, the Avs won the draw inside the left circle. The puck was pushed back to the near point for a shot by John-Michael Liles. The puck hit traffic on its way to the net and ended up on the stick of Stastny, whose low shot from the outer rim of the left circle lit the lamp.
Hossa's goal with 1:36 to go before the second intermission drew the visitors within 3-2. Sharp, from near the base of the right half-wall, fired the puck toward the crease, and Hossa redirected it in while he was falling to the ice.
Midway through the third period, Sharp's rebound from near the top of the crease tied the score. Chicago was on the power play, and Sharp was lurking in the low slot before he pounced on the loose puck after a shot by Toews from the right side along the goal line.
The Colorado franchise improved to 22-5-4 all-time in home openers. The Avs are 7-4-4 in season openers since moving to Denver...Chicago is now 35-31-18 all-time in season-opening games...Prior to the game, the Avs honored their 1996 Cup title team...The Blackhawks were 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Avs were 1-for-3 with the extra skater.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
(Sports Network) - It didn't take long after winning their first Stanley Cup championship in 49 years for salary cap issues to force the Chicago Blackhawks to make major changes to their roster.
Minus a few key pieces, the Blackhawks begin their quest tonight to become the first back-to-back champions in over 12 years with a meeting against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
The Blackhawks put the city of Chicago into a celebratory frenzy on the night of June 9, when Patrick Kane's overtime tally in Game 6 versus the Philadelphia Flyers gave Chicago its first championship since 1961.
The good feelings, though, did not last through the summer as cap issues forced the 'Hawks to part ways with several players due to financial reasons. Breakout playoff star Dustin Byfuglien and defenseman Brent Sopel were among those traded to Atlanta on June 24, the start of a purge that also saw Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg get traded, while John Madden was among those lost through free agency.
In another shocking twist, the Blackhawks also parted ways with both goaltenders from last year's title run. Antti Niemi, who won all 16 of Chicago's playoff games while posting a 2.63 goals-against average, was allowed to leave after being awarded $2.75 million in arbitration, while Cristobal Huet was loaned out to a team in the Swiss National League so that his salary wouldn't count against the cap.
To make matters worse, Chicago will also be without defenseman Brian Campbell for the next couple of weeks due to a sprained right knee suffered during training camp.
One player the Blackhawks were able to keep is young defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson after the club matched an offer sheet from San Jose in July that further put Chicago against the cap.
Given the turnover, it would be unfair to expect the Blackhawks to match their club-record 52 wins from a season ago, but it is not like the defending Central Division champs are starting over. Chicago still has an excellent core up front in reigning Conn Smyth Trophy winner Jonathan Toews, Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, while Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith still patrols the blue line.
After all the talk this offseason of the Blackhawks will be missing, Toews is just ready to begin his club's title defense.
"I think everyone is ready," he said after Chicago's final preseason game on Sunday. "We just need to be in that setting where it will be a little bit easier to motivate ourselves to play better hockey and really get this thing going."
Toews and company are trying to become the first back-to-back champs since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 and tonight face an Avalanche squad that will be aiming to get to the postseason for a second straight campaign.
After notching just 69 points in 2008-09, the Avalanche improved to 95 a season ago to get into the playoffs before being eliminated in the first round in six games. Still, the club improved by nine wins and will look to take another step forward this year.
"I'm pretty excited. It's always good to get that first game out of the way. Especially playing the defending Stanley Cup champions," center Daniel Winnik told Colorado's official website. "You know they'll be coming out really hard. And as a team I'm sure we have a lot to prove."
Chicago's new-look defense will be going up against one of the deepest group of centers in the league in Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly. Stastny recorded a career-best 79 points last year off 20 goals and 59 assists, while Duchene had 24 goals and 55 points to finish third in voting for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.
Colorado's success this year will also hinge on the play of goaltender Craig Anderson, who went 38-25-7 with a 2.63 GAA and seven shutouts in 71 starts a year ago in his first shot at full-time duties after signing a two-year deal in the offseason.
The Avs will open the season without forward Peter Mueller, who is sidelined indefinitely after suffering his second concussion in six months during the preseason. Mueller had nine goals and 20 points in 15 games with Colorado last year after being acquired from Phoenix.
The Blackhawks have won six of their last nine versus the Avalanche, including three of four a season ago. The lone loss came after regulation and the two clubs split a pair of meetings in Colorado.