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Blackhawks Fall In Overtime To Avalanche, 4-3, In Season Opener

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.

Game Notes

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.