Wednesday night saw the Colorado Avalanche open their season in convincing fashion, with a 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. The game marked the NHL debut for first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon and the NHL coaching debut for hall of fame goaltender Patrick Roy.
MacKinnon lived up to the hype, assisting on both of Jamie McGinn’s goals with beautiful passes from behind the net. He also showcased his speed on a partial breakaway, and his feistiness during a scrum with defenseman Ben Lovejoy (the pair received matching roughing penalties for their efforts).
Roy also lived up to the hype, putting his fiery passion on display at the end of the contest. Moments before the end of the game, Lovejoy attempted to welcome MacKinnon to the NHL, lining up the prized rookie for a knee-on-knee hit. The lack of a call on the play drew the ire of Roy, who could be seen after the game yelling at both the Ducks players and coach Bruce Boudreau; almost knocking over the partition between the two benches.
"I was not very happy," said Roy. "First of all, I mean, to see a defenseman knee our guy. I mean, that was a knee-on-knee hit. That should have been a penalty in my opinion, and I certainly didn't like that. When it's 6-0, I don't think this game needs that type of cheap shot. But after that there was some talk from the coaches, I guess. But at the same time, what should I do? He put his fourth line on the ice. I'm not going to go with my first line. I went with my fourth line and, that's it. I was matching all night long, by the way."
Roy was given a game misconduct and fined $10,000 for his actions. Perhaps lost in the hoopla at the end of the contest was the great offensive play of the team. Steve Downie had a Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist and a fight). In his return to the Avalanche, Alex Tanguay had three assists. In his first game playing left wing, Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov was named the first star of the game, with 35 saves on 36 shots; surrendering the shutout with seven seconds left in the contest.
The Avalanche will return to action on Friday, when they take on the Nashville Predators.