It was a sweet first victory in a Colorado Avalanche uniform for goaltender Jonathan Bernier, and he got to do against the team he played for just five months ago.
Colorado defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Friday night at Pepsi Center, but the win was anything but easy for the Avs goalie despite only facing 18 shots.
The Avalanche had a strong game overall and controlled the play in the first two periods, as the Ducks managed just four shots a piece each frame. But with so little action at his end of the ice, Bernier had to do what could to keep his mind on the next puck that would come his way.
"You're just trying to stay focused, but you're just trying to stay in it," Bernier said. "You just have to make sure that you're doing the right things to stay focused. You got to talk to yourself, keep the legs going and things like that to just stay warm."
The only shot that got past the Laval, Quebec, native came during an Avs power play 2:14 into the second period. The Ducks forced a turnover and transitioned up the ice on a 3-on-2, and Brandon Montour scored shorthanded as the puck got by J.T. Compher, who tried to block it, and past Bernier's glove.
Bernier denied the next seven shots he faced, and his Colorado teammates bounced back as Tyson Barrie scored with 5:39 remaining and Nikita Zadorov tallied into an empty net with a second left to play.
"It was actually a pretty tough game to play with not a lot of shots in the first two (periods), and they got a pretty lucky 3-on-2 there and scored," Bernier said. "We didn't panic. We kept pressuring them, and we found a way to score a big goal."
Video: Goalie Jonathan Bernier gets his first Avs win
Bernier was a member of the Ducks last season as the primary backup to John Gibson, but he ended up playing in 39 contests after Gibson went down with various injuries. He went on to have one of the best years of his NHL career, posting a 21-7-4 record, 2.65 goals-against average and .915 save percentage. The netminder also appeared in four playoff outings, with him last seeing action in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final on May 22.
"Obviously, it is always extra special when you win against your old club," Bernier said of beating Anaheim. "For me, it was more important to win, and especially the way we won tonight. We worked so hard, and we stayed focused."
Video: ANA@COL: Bernier snags Fowler's strong shot
After becoming an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, Bernier signed a one-year contract with the Avalanche on July 1 to help support starter Semyon Varlamov. He made 35 saves in his Colorado debut last Saturday at the New Jersey Devils.
So far this season, Bernier and Varlamov have formed a solid goaltending tandem. The Avs have only allowed 10 goals over the first five contests, and the team's defense has stepped up in front of them.
The Avs are giving up 29.6 shots per game, which ranks eighth in the NHL as of Friday night.
MACKINNON HURT, BUT NOT SERIOUS
Nathan MacKinnon suffered an eye injury in the first period against Anaheim, but he may not be out of the lineup for long--if at all.
MacKinnon took a stick to the face with 7:06 remaining in the opening stanza while waiting for the puck around the Ducks' goal during an Avalanche power play. The stick blade of Anaheim's' Derek Grant caught MacKinnon under the visor, forcing him to immediately fall to the ice.
There was no penalty called, as none of the on-ice officials saw the high stick.
The Avalanche forward needed assistance to get to the team's locker room and didn't return to the game, but head coach Jared Bednar delivered some positive news after the contest.
"It looks like he is going to be OK," Bednar revealed. "He took a stick in the eye and then he had some vision problems immediately after, but now things have settled down a bit and it looks like he should be good to go for tomorrow."
Video: Coach Bednar's postgame news conference
Colorado begins a two-game road trip on Saturday at Dallas and continues it Tuesday in Nashville.
MacKinnon entered the contest tied for third on the team in scoring with four points (all assists) in the first four games of the season.
ANDRIGHETTO KEEPS ROLLING
Sven Andrighetto tallied five goals and 11 assists in the final 19 contests last season after the Avs acquired him in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens, and the Swiss forward hasn't lost a step this year.
Andrighetto recorded two assists Friday to post his third consecutive multi-point outing, totaling six points (three goals and three assists) in all.
"I've said it before, I'm not really looking at goals or assists or points," Andrighetto said. "They come by themselves if you play the right way."
His six points after five games rank tied for seventh among all Western Conference skaters.
Video: Sven Andrighetto on the Avs win against the Ducks
OFF TO DALLAS
The Avalanche finishes its first back-to-back set of the season on Saturday as it travels to Texas to face the Dallas Stars.
It will be the first of five meetings between the clubs this season, and the Avs' first against a Central Division opponent. Colorado is in a stretch where it plays four straight games against a division opponent and seven straight versus a team from the Western Conference.
Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net for Colorado, which looks to stretch its winning streak to four games for the first time since Jan. 18-23, 2016.
The Avalanche's current 4-1-0 record is tied for the team's third-best start through the first five games of the season.