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Beauchemin Delivers In Avalanche Debut

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

Francois Beauchemin played as advertised in his first game in a Colorado Avalanche uniform. The defenseman was solid in his own end and wasn't too shabby on the offensive side of things as well.

He did everything the Avs expected him to do when they signed him as a free agent in the offseason. Beauchemin finished the game with three assists, four blocked shots, two hits and a plus-1 rating in 22:06 of ice time.

Not a bad Avalanche debut for the Sorel, Quebec, native. Getting the win instead of seeing the Minnesota Wild come back for a 5-4 victory might have been the only thing to make opening night sweeter.

"I felt good, obviously," Beauchemin said of his first game in Colorado's burgundy and blue colors. "That collapse is just a stinger. Not a good feeling right now, but we'll regroup and get better on Saturday."

After being paired together since the first day of training camp, Beauchemin and defensive partner Erik Johnson's chemistry is developing nicely. The blueliners seemed to work well off each other, especially early in the contest when they connected for the game's second score with 2:36 left in the opening period.

After several quick passes around the zone on the power play, Beauchemin fed Johnson the puck in the high slot where the right-handed rear guard unleashed a slap shot that got past Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk.

"It was fun. I thought we had some good looks," Beauchemin said of playing with Johnson in a regular-season contest. "I thought we did some good things offensively, defensively—got that up a little more. Talked a little more in the D-zone, making those short plays and stuff like that. I think overall we did a good job."

Beauchemin's second assist highlighted his vision on the ice. With nearly a minute left in the first period, the veteran fired the puck off the end boards where it ricocheted right in front to Gabriel Landeskog. The Colorado captain then stuffed the puck between the left post and the right pad of the Minnesota netminder to give the home team a 3-0 lead.

Like his previous two helpers, his third of the night—on John Mitchell's tally midway through the second period—featured strong puck movement in the offensive zone.

"That is the game we want to play," he said of the team making quick passes. "That is the game we are going to play all year long. That is not going to change."

FIVE OTHERS MAKE AVS DEBUT

Other than Beauchemin, Thursday's game marked the official start for five other players in their Avalanche tenure.

Forwards Blake Comeau, Jack Skille, Mikko Rantanen and Carl Soderberg, and defenseman Nikita Zadorov also made their debuts in the Mile High City.

For Rantanen, it was his first-ever NHL contest. A solid showing during camp helped him become the fifth 18-year-old in the last seven years to make the club's 23-man opening-night roster.

Of the four other players before him to accomplish the feat—Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon and Landeskog—Rantanen is the oldest of the bunch at 18 years and 344 days.

Defenseman Brandon Gormley and forward Mikhail Grigorenko will also make their Avalanche debuts next time they take the ice. Both were healthy scratches against Minnesota.

POWER PLAY POTS TWO

It was just one game, but Colorado's power play looked improved and it is perfect on the season after going 2-for-2 on opening night.

Jarome Iginla's tally just seven seconds into the first extra-man chance and Johnson's score a minute into the Avs' second opportunity helped give the club an early 2-0 lead in the opening period.

"The guys practiced hard. They worked with the guys," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said of his team's power play after game one. "They moved the puck really well. We had a really good start. We jumped hard. I was really happy with how we played in that first period."

The Avs' power play ranked 29th in the league last season, scoring at 15-percent rate.

MORE POSTGAME NOTES

Jarome Iginla scored his 178th career power-play goal, tying Michel Goulet for 27th place on the NHL’s all-time list…The goal was Iginla’s 590th career tally overall, second among active players and 19th on the all-time list.

•Iginla has the most points (70) and goals (38) of any player ever against the Wild franchise.

•John Mitchell has now scored a goal in his first game of the season in each of his four years with the Avalanche.

•Mikko Rantane became the first player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to wear #96.

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