Joe Colborne hat trick adds DU flavor to Avalanche win in opener
Joe Colborne couldn’t have drawn it up any better — three goals in his first game with the Colorado Avalanche.
Same with coach Jared Bednar — a gut-check win in his debut on the bench.
It was a memorable night for the new guys.
Colborne had his first NHL hat trick, Colorado withstood a 6-on-4 opportunity over final 46 seconds and the Avalanche held off the Dallas Stars 6-5 on Saturday.
“That was a fun game. It was an exciting game. I really liked it,” Bednar said. “I enjoyed being on the bench.”
Trailing 2-0 early, Colborne came to the rescue as he scored three of Colorado’s next five goals to build a 5-2 lead. Carl Soderberg and Nathan MacKinnon also scored during the stretch, and Tyson Barrie added an insurance goal in the third period to kick off the Bednar Era in winning fashion.
Bednar took over for Patrick Roy after the Hall of Fame goaltender-turned-coach surprisingly stepped away two months ago.
“I liked (Colborne) around the net. He was hungry around the net,” Bednar said. “He was getting sticks on pucks. He was fighting to the front of the net. That’s part of his M.O., part of what made him successful in years past.”
Tyler Seguin had two goals for the Stars, while Devin Shore, Jamie Benn and Brett Ritchie also scored.
Dallas pulled starter Antti Niemi at 7:05 of the second period after allowing five goals. Kari Lehtonen slowed the Avalanche’s potent offensive attack so the Stars could work their way back into the game.
Barrie scored a goal that bounced off the skate of Stephen Johns and past Lehtonen to make it 6-4. Soon after, Ritchie made it a one-goal game when he slid a shot past Semyon Varlamov.
Blake Comeau was called for slashing with 1:56 remaining. The Stars pulled Lehtonen, but couldn’t get anything past Varlamov, who’s won 11 straight over Dallas.
“We didn’t do enough to win the hockey game and didn’t deserve to win,” Benn said. “When you play like that, it doesn’t matter if you scored five and give up six, it’s unacceptable.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff felt the same way.
“We’re a better team than that,” Ruff said. “We have some defensemen trying to find their way. We gave up some tough opportunities in the second period.”
The Avalanche certainly had ample opportunities to gain some separation in the third period. A shot by Andreas Martinsen clanged off the post. Later, Fedor Tyutin’s slap shot appeared to go in and the horn sounded. But the puck actually hit the outside of the net. And later, Mikhail Grigorenko had a shot roll along the mouth of the goal before veering just wide.
Colborne signed with the Avalanche as a free agent in July after a 19-goal, 25-assist season with Calgary. He’s a fan-favorite given that he played collegiately down the road at the University of Denver.
“We got a big win against a tough opponent,” Colborne said. “There were some nerves at the start.”
Bednar was a career minor leaguer — as a defenseman and then as a coach — before being hired by Colorado on Aug. 25. The 44-year-old led the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League to the Calder Cup last season.
His style may be even more up-tempo than the version Roy implemented. Colorado outshot Dallas 33-28.
“I liked the way we played offensively. I thought we were skating and on our toes and creating chances,” Bednar said. “We have to get better defensively.”
The Avalanche haven’t garnered much early respect with a majority of prognosticators predicting they’ll finish outside of the playoff picture.
“People can say what they want,” said Matt Duchene, who will serve as an alternate captain this season. “Go out there and prove them wrong — that’s our job.”