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Avalanche Falls 5-1 to Golden Knights in Preseason Opener

Ryan Graves scores while Semyon Varlamov and Spencer Martin split time in goal

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

The Colorado Avalanche fell 5-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights in the team's first preseason game on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

"This game for me, it's not really about our veteran guys, especially those core guys that played tonight," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. "It's about trying to get them in a couple game situations and get them a few reps here before we take a real close look at a lot of other guys."

Colorado had 10 players on its game roster that had NHL regular-season experience and five others that were dressing in their first preseason contest. It was the first of the Avs' six-game preseason slate, which features home and road games against Vegas, the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars.

"We got a lot to look at coming up, so this one for me is about, I think we have five or six guys playing their first game, young guys that we drafted this year that did a nice job [at the Vegas Rookie Faceoff], and we wanted to see now that things ramped up a notch," said Bednar.

Defenseman Ryan Graves scored the Avs' only marker at 4:56 of the third period, tallying on a slap shot from the right point. Tyson Barrie and Matt Calvert picked up assists on the goal that cut the Golden Knights' lead to 3-1 at the time.

Graves, who was acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline last season from the New York Rangers, finished with three shots on goal, five shot attempts and four blocked shots in 19:33 of ice time.

"Big, physical, he's hard on the puck battles. He obviously has a great shot," Bednar said of the 6-foot-5 and 226-pound rear guard.

Colorado went 0-for-2 on the power play while Vegas capitalized on both of their two chances with the man advantage. Brandon Pirri opened the scoring with a power-play marker 6:05 into the first period, and Alex Tuch tallied the other on a tic-tac-toe play on the backdoor with 1:46 left in the middle frame to give the Knights a 3-0 lead.

Erik Brannstrom also scored for the Golden Knights in the second stanza, while Reid Duke and Erik Haula tallied in the third period. Four Vegas players finished with multi-point outings, as Brannstrom and Tuch had a goal and an assist each while Tomas Hyka and Paul Stastny both finished with a pair of helpers.

Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 21-of-24 saves while playing the first two periods. Spencer Martin guarded the pipes in the third stanza in a pre-determined switch and finished with four saves on six shots.

Golden Knights goalie Zach Fucale stopped 24 pucks. Vegas outshot Colorado by a 30-25 margin.

The Avalanche's next preseason contest is Saturday at the Minnesota Wild. The game begins at 4 p.m. MT and will be televised on NHL Network.

Colorado Avalanche Lineup vs. Golden Knights

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Calvert - J.T. Compher - Logan O'Connor
J.C. Beaudin - Brandon Saigeon - Nick Henry
Travis Barron - Josh Dickinson - Julien Nantel

Ian Cole - Erik Johnson
Mason Geertsen - Tyson Barrie
Ryan Graves - Josh Anderson

Semyon Varlamov
Spencer Martin

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