Roy makes 32 saves as Avs start Cup defense

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.

Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy came close to another shutout, but Robert Lang spoiled his bid with 6:59 left in the game.
Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy came close to another shutout, but Robert Lang spoiled his bid with 6:59 left in the game.

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

when scorers such as Lemieux, Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka and

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."

Game notes

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.