Local Sports

Avalanche Double Up Blackhawks in Season Opener

Bowen Byram, Colorado's youngest player at 20 years, 4 months, scored his first NHL goal and added an assist, and 34-year-old Jack Johnson also scored to lead the short-handed Avalanche over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 in the season opener for both teams Wednesday night.


Johnson, who is 8 days older than teammate Darren Helm, made the team on a professional tryout and made an immediate impact with the first goal of the game.


Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which played without star center Nathan MacKinnon and head coach Jared Bednar. Both are in the COVID-19 protocol and away from the club.


Darcy Kuemper stopped 32 shots in his Avalanche debut.


Kuemper, acquired from Arizona in the offseason, wasn't tested early but made two big saves on Kirby Dach in the second period. Dach had a breakaway at 12:02, but Kuemper closed the pads on his shot. Minutes later, Dach had another wide-open chance from the left circle that Kuemper stopped.


Colorado got a measure of revenge against Chicago goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who helped Vegas beat the Avalanche in the second round of the 2020-21 playoffs. Fleury faced a barrage of pucks early as Colorado had 17 of the first 19 shots on goal.

The Blackhawks got on the board late in the first period when forward Dominik Kubalik scored on the power play at 16:47, cutting the Avalanche's lead to 3-1.


Connor Murphy scored an unassisted goal at 15:13 of the third period. Chicago went on the power play at 16:26 and pulled Fleury for a 6-on-4 advantage, but couldn't score.


The Blackhawks are at the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

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