Ducks drop season opener to Avs 6-1

DENVER (AP) — Semyon Varlamov was sharp in
making 35 saves, and Jamie McGinn scored two goals, leading Colorado to a
6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night in Patrick Roy’s
coaching debut with the Avalanche.

Ryan O’Reilly, John Mitchell, Matt
Duchene and Steve Downie added goals for the Avalanche, who improved to
19-8-7 on opening night. Top pick Nathan MacKinnon set up both of
McGinn’s goals with no-look passes. Alex Tanguay, back with Colorado for
the first time since the 2005-06 season, had three assists.

Varlamov stuffed the Ducks all evening
but lost his bid for a shutout in the closing seconds when Jakob
Silfverberg slipped a shot by him.

Viktor Fasth struggled for Anaheim, allowing three goals in the second period.

Things got heated after the final horn,
with some players getting into a skirmish near the benches. Even Roy got
into the act as he jawed from behind the glass.

At barely 18 years old, MacKinnon is the
youngest player in franchise history to make his NHL debut. He had
quite an eventful game, getting into a skirmish and then dishing out two

His first career point came in the
second period when he sent a pass through the legs of an Anaheim
defender. His other was in the third when he found a wide-open McGinn
skating toward the net.

In large part, this night belonged to
Roy, who drew a loud roar when he was introduced before the game. He and
fellow Hall of Famer Joe Sakic, who is in charge of the day-to-day
hockey operations, are teaming up to restore the luster to an
organization that has missed the playoffs the last three seasons.

Almost fitting that Varlamov should play so well under the watch of Roy, one of the league’s best goalies.

Known for his feistiness during his
career, Roy vowed to bring that kind of passion back to the Avalanche.
He thinks this team can be a contender, even if few prognosticators are
giving the Avs much of a chance of making the playoffs.

“We want to surprise the world of hockey,” Roy said.

O’Reilly got the Avs off to a good
start by scoring the first goal in the Roy era late in the opening
period when he stole the puck from defenseman Francois Beauchemin and
beat Fasth with a wrist shot. O’Reilly, who is making the move to left
wing, also had an assist.

It was a memorable return to the ice
for Downie as he scored his first goal since Feb. 25, 2012. He missed
the majority of last season with a torn knee ligament.

Teemu Selanne didn’t have many scoring
chances for the Ducks as the 43-year-old forward began his final NHL
season. Selanne has spent 15 seasons with Anaheim and is the franchise’s
career leader in goals, assists and games.

Dustin Penner was scratched from the
season-opening lineup because of a lackluster training camp. The right
wing signed a one-year deal worth $2 million to return to Anaheim.

Starting in his place was Patrick Maroon, who got into a fight with Cody McLeod.

“You have to make the point of if you
don’t have a great training camp, this isn’t given to you,” Anaheim
coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Silfverberg (lower body injury) was activated before the game, and
Anaheim sent F Devante Smith-Pelly to Norfolk of the American Hockey
League. … Avs D Ryan Wilson (knee) began the season on injured
reserve. … MacKinnon is living in the basement of goalie
Jean-Sebastien Giguere this season.