DENVER (AP) — Connor Bedard is fast. Trouble is, he and the Chicago Blackhawks just saw an entire roster full of next-level fast. Got caught watching at times, too, as Colorado flew up and down the ice.
DENVER (AP) — Connor Bedard is fast. Trouble is, he and the Chicago Blackhawks just saw an entire roster full of next-level fast.
Got caught watching at times, too, as Colorado flew up and down the ice.
Logan O’Connorto score a short-handed goal for the second straight game, Alexandar Georgiev stopped 18 shots and the Avalanche cruised to a 4-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Thursday night in their home opener.
Ryan Johansen, Devon Toews andalso scored to help the Avalanche improve to 4-0.
“Their main motto,” Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones said, “is definitely speed.”
That up-tempo pace was on full display all night long. The Avalanche outshot the Blackhawks 41-18 in a game where they scored short-handed, on the power play and twice at full strength.
“We’re using our speed and playing to our instincts,” O’Connor said. “It just gives teams less time and space.”
Colorado kept Bedard in check as the smooth-skating teenager and top pick in the most recent draft didn’t record a shot on goal. He averaged five entering the game.
Part of the learning curve, Chicago coach Luke Richardson acknowledged. And it will only benefit Bedard, Richardson said, to see the speed of MacKinnon and Cale Makar up close.
“See how he can reach that, and put that into his game,” Richardson said.
Georgiev was sharp in posting his 14th shutout. His teammates made sure the action was constantly at the other end.
“It’s a lot of fun to play that way, when you’re on the attack for most of the night,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Just do the right things on the checking side so you can get back on the attack. It’s how we sell it and guys mostly like playing that way.”
Chicago returns home after finishing a five-game trip 2-3. Petr Mrazek was under constant pressure and finished with 37 saves.
“Some of the saves he made to keep us in it,” Blackhawks forward Nick Foligno said. “That game might have been 10-0.”
Toews put the Avalanche up 3-0 in the second period when he knocked the puck into an empty net off a pass from Valeri Nichushkin. It’s the first goal of the season for Toews, who signed a seven-year extension worth $50.75 million last week.
The Avalanche took 22 shots in the first period and grabbed a 2-0 lead. O’Connor got things going by zooming out of the zone, taking a feed from Andrew Cogliano and beating Mrazek with a shot over his glove. O’Connor also scored a short-handed goal in Seattle on Tuesday.
He’s the fifth player in Colorado/Quebec history to tally a short-handed goal in back-to-back games and first since captain Gabriel Landeskog in March 2013.
Bedard went against his fifth straight No. 1 selection in MacKinnon (No. 1 in 2013). Bedard joins Nico Hischier (No. 1 in 2017) as the only players in NHL history to meet five or more No. 1 selections over their first five career games, according to NHL research.
So far, Bedard has squared off against Sidney Crosby (No. 1 in 2005), Juraj Slafkovsky (No. 1 in 2022), John Tavares (No. 1 in 2009), Auston Matthews (No. 1 in 2016) and MacKinnon.
MacKinnon has been impressed with the maturity of Bedard and of course the talent.
“He’s a lot better than me at 18, that’s for sure,” cracked MacKinnon, who scored in the third period. “He looks great.”
Landeskog dropped by the rink during morning skate Thursday. He’s slated to miss a second straight season as he recovers from cartilage replacement surgery on his knee.
“Obviously, great to see him,” MacKinnon said. “Seems like he’s doing awesome.”
Blackhawks: Host Vegas on Saturday night in their home opener.
Avalanche: Host Carolina on Saturday night.
Pat Graham, The Associated Press