PITTSBURGH (AP) -- They didn't have Ray Bourque. They didn't have
Peter Forsberg. They didn't have a good preseason. What the
Colorado Avalanche have is the Stanley Cup and, for at least the
first night of a new season, they showed exactly why.
Vaclav Nedorost had a goal and an assist in his first NHL game
and Patrick Roy, as dominating as he was at the end of last season,
shut down Pittsburgh in the Avalanche's 3-1 victory Wednesday
Roy, the playoffs MVP last season as Colorado won its second cup
in five years, turned aside 32 of 33 shots and was working on his
53rd career shutout until Robert Lang scored with 6:59 remaining in
the opening night game.
Mario Lemieux had a quiet night for Pittsburgh in his first
season opener in five years, setting up a couple of good scoring
chances but getting few of his own as the Penguins played their
first game since 1989 without five-time scoring champion Jaromir
Jagr on their roster. He was traded to Washington during the
The Avalanche were without Bourque, the star defenseman who
retired after finally winning the cup in his 22nd season, and
Forsberg, who is taking a medical leave of absence. But it was the
Penguins who seemed to miss their former star the most.
Asked whether the Penguins missed Jagr's scoring touch, Lemieux
cut off the question and said, "Don't even start with that."
Roy didn't want to hear about who wasn't there for Pittsburgh
Lang are around.
"A lot of teams have lost good players and there will be a
period of adjustment, and our team knows that," Roy said of the
Avs, who won only once in the preseason. "We have to be patient
and take time for guys to adjust and feel comfortable in a new
Colorado's mastery of the Penguins is nothing new -- the
Avalanche are 7-0-1 in Pittsburgh since moving to Denver in 1995 --
but many of their players are.
The Avs have 10 players on their season-opening roster who
weren't there last season, including Nedorost, a 19-year-old rookie
and a 2000 first-round draft pick who scored Colorado's first goal
and set up its second.
"To get a goal in my first game, I would have to say I'm
lucky," he said.
Nedorost, the star of the Czech Republic's gold medal team in
the world junior championships this year, took a drop pass from
Steven Reinprecht in the right circle and flipped a wrist shot that
glanced off Johan Hedberg's pads and into the net on a power play
at 1:51 of the second.
"You can't ask for anything more than that: first game, first
goal," Joe Sakic said. "He can just relax now, that takes the
pressure off him. He's going to have a great career, because he's
got a lot of talent."
Until Nedorost's goal, the Penguins had forced the play,
outshooting Colorado 14-6 in the first period without getting a
shot by Roy, who is 23-8-6 against them. Stephane Richer and rookie
Kris Beech both put shots off the post.
"The way they played in the first period, I'm sure they were
deflated by the way Patrick kept the puck out of the net," Sakic
Lemieux said, "That's why he (Roy) has over 400 wins."
Nedorost, playing at the time on Colorado's top line, then got
the second assist on Sakic's chip-shot goal from the low slot at
9:28 of the second. Sakic managed to get his stick on the puck even
as defenseman Darius Kasparaitis screened him from the net.
Chris Drury came off the bench, went to the net and put in a
rebound of Alex Tanguay's shot past a sprawling Hedberg at 8:12 of
the third to make it 3-0.
The Avalanche effectively controlled Pittsburgh's dangerous
offense even while playing without two of their top three
defensemen from a year ago -- Bourque and Adam Foote, who is injured
and is expected to miss about a month.
Pittsburgh went 0-for-5 on the power play and is 0-for-12
against Colorado the last two seasons.
"That's hockey," Penguins coach Ivan Hlinka said. "Sometimes
you play a good game and you still don't win."
The final score was the same as Colorado's Game 7 victory
over New Jersey in the Stanley Cup finals. ... The teams won't meet
again this season unless they reach the Stanley Cup finals. The
Penguins do not play in Denver. ... With Jagr gone, Lemieux again
wears the "C" as the Penguins' captain, as well as being their
CEO, chairman and owner. ... The Penguins played their home opener
before the Steelers did. The Steelers don't play in Heinz Field
until Sunday. ... Colorado forward Eric Messier injured a shoulder
while being slammed into the boards by Richer in the first period
and did not return. Richer was penalized. ... Colorado is 9-1-3 in
its last 13 games against Pittsburgh.
- Dave Jackson
- Stephen Walkom
- Mark Pare