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Memorable Avs Debut For Colborne

The DU alum recorded a hat trick in the season opener

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Joe Colborne's regular-season debut in a Colorado Avalanche uniform sure was unforgettable.

Just 27:05 into his first game at Pepsi Center as a member of the home team, Colborne tallied three goals for his first NHL hat trick and helped spark the Avs to a 6-5 opening-night victory against the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

"I'm happy that we got the win. It makes it all that much better," Colborne said. "You couldn't really script it much better than that."

Colborne is the first Colorado player to score a hat trick in the team's first game of the season since Paul Stastny scored three times versus the Stars on Oct. 3, 2007. Overall, he is the fifth player in franchise history to light the red lamp three times on opening night, also joining Real Cloutier (Oct. 10, 1979, Quebec vs. Atlanta), Peter Stastny (Oct. 6, 1982, Quebec at Buffalo) and Dale Hunter (Oct. 4, 1983, Quebec vs. NY Islanders,).

However, only Cloutier and Colborne accomplished the feat in their team debut.

The forward's markers were of the greasy variety, with him getting to the front of the net for rebounds and deflections.

"The three goals, probably the way I'm going to score most of them, and I'm just fine with that," Colborne said. "It's my job and something I take pride in, going to those tough areas and making them try to drag me down, draw some penalties and hopefully bury some."

The hattie was the first for the Avs since Nathan MacKinnon did it on Dec. 28, 2015 at San Jose. MacKinnon also had the last one on home ice, Feb. 22, 2015 against Tampa Bay.

Video: Joe Colborne talks about his first NHL hat trick

Colborne tallied twice in the first period against Dallas, becoming the first Colorado player since Joe Sakic on Oct. 10, 1998 against Ottawa to score twice in the opening stanza of the season opener.

His first goal at 9:21 of the stanza cut the Stars' lead to 2-1 as he whacked at the puck a few times in the crease before it slowly slid across the goal line. The second tally then tied the contest with 3:35 left as he buried his own rebound after Erik Johnson's shot from the blue line caromed off goalie Antti Niemi.

The forward's final score was a tip in front on Nikita Zadorov's shot from the point at 7:05 of the middle period, triggering the hats to rain down onto the ice--199 in all.

Video: DAL@COL: Colborne records his first career hat trick

"They weren't the most skilled goals I've ever had," Colborne admitted. "The tip wasn't too bad, but the first two were definitely grinding it out and getting your nose dirty."

That's type of hockey Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar expects from the Calgary, Alberta, native, who registered a career-high 19 goals last year with his hometown Flames.

"I tell you, I liked him around the net. He was hungry around the net," Bednar said. "He was getting sticks on pucks, fighting to the front of the net, and that's part of his M.O, part of what made him successful in years past. We need that from him."

So far, Colborne's return to the state the he attended college in is already bringing back old memories.

He said his last hat trick that he can recall was when he was playing just a few miles down the road at the University of Denver.

"I think that might be the last one I remember," Colborne said. "This is something I'll remember for a long time."

BEDNAR WINS COACHING DEBUT

Jared Bednar won 251 games in seven seasons as a head coach in the ECHL and AHL. He picked up his first NHL win in his league debut on Saturday.

"That was a fun game. That was an exciting game. I really liked it," Bednar reflected on his club's 6-5 victory, the highest scoring opening-night contest in team history. "I enjoyed being on the bench. I thought our fans were amazing.

"I don't want to give up that many goals, but it was fun. I enjoyed it."

Hired by the franchise less than two months ago on Aug. 25, Bednar had his son and parents in the Pepsi Center stands watching his first NHL contest while his wife and daughter followed along in South Carolina.

It was the first ever game at the NHL level for Bednar, who had a nine-year playing career in the minor leagues but never reached the top-tier of the sport.

He said he'll enjoy Saturday's victory for a little bit before turning his attention to Colorado's first road trip of the new year, a four gamer that begins Monday versus the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We have an early morning practice, but it's a good night. It's a successful night for our team," Bednar said. "It's hard to win in this league, especially against a team like Dallas. You have to enjoy it, even if it's for a short period of time. You got to enjoy your wins. That's what it is all about. We're supposed to have fun here."

Video: Coach Bednar's postgame press conference

BIG KILL AT THE END

Despite giving up two power-play goals to the Stars' lethal attack, the Avs penalty kill unit came up big when it had to.

Colorado played down a man for the final 1:56 of the third period and was hanging on to a one-goal lead with Dallas buzzing around, looking for the equalizer. The special teams unit did its job, not allowing a shot on goal in those final minutes.

"I thought we stayed with it, and we were confident on the bench that we could get a kill and give us a chance to shoot it down the ice," Bednar said. "Maybe take a crack at the net if it's there. But we had some guys that made some big plays defensively at the end there. [Francois Beauchemin] had a blocked shot. I think Gabriel Bourque had one. [Gabriel] Landeskog made a great play, driving through a guy on the left boards to get it out.

"That is what you got to do, you got to keep winning those battles and make smart, hard plays at the end of it to preserve the win."

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