Hobey Baker Award victor Will Butcher and Swedish import Jesper Bratt stole a lot of the spotlight from Hischier in a 4-1 season-opening victory over the Avalanche on Saturday. The Red Wings have yet to play a regular-season game there. “Nico!” when he took the first shift of his National Hockey League career less than a minute into the game.
Defensemen Mirco Mueller (6:58), Steven Santini (5:12) and John Moore (4:24), center Adam Henrique (4:41), left wing Brian Gibbons (5:05) and rookie Jesper Bratt (4:47) logged the most time on the penalty kill. But against the Devils, the Avs’ failed clearing attempt led to New Jersey’s power-play goals. Hischier made some nifty passes that were not converted both on even strength and the power play.
“All those guys in their first game played great, I thought”, said Henrique.
Carl Soderberg scored a power-play goal for the Avalanche (1-1-0) 10 minutes later to make it 2-1.
New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider was sharp, finishing with 40 saves, including a clutch pad stop midway through the third on Matt Duchene’s 2-on-1 opportunity.
The Avs won their opener 4-2 Thursday at the New York Rangers, who deserved their two power-play goals.
“He gave us a chance to win”, said Bernier’s teammate, Nathan MacKinnon. “And to win in my first game, it’s just a great experience”. “It’s up to us to play better in front of him”.
Henrique deflected a Butcher shot past Colorado goalie Jonathan Bernier just 4:04 into the game to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead. “Just moving the puck in and out and getting the PK moving around was big”. The Devils went ahead with another power-play goal 2:52 into the second period on Jimmy Hayes’ chip shot from the side of the crease. Bratt connected from the right circle after taking a cross-ice pass from Taylor Hall.
He and gritty Dalton Prout, expected to fill a seventh defenseman’s role, were the two extra blue liners while Miles Wood, 22, who had eight goals and nine assists, along with 86 penalty minutes, in 61 games for the Devils last season, was the spare forward. The Devils pushed on a short-handed break, and Bratt hit Moore for an open wrister.
Devils coach John Hynes appreciated Hischier’s effort. “I just went to hit him and never changed my course”. Stafford logged 6:06 in the first period in his Devils debut but did not return to the bench to start the second period and Palmieri was helped from the ice after being kneed by Erik Johnson at 17:44 of the second period.