Skip to main content

Avs honor Sakic before beating San Jose 5-2 @NHLdotcom

Joe Sakic's former teammates gave the longtime Colorado captain the best kind of retirement present: a victory.

The Avalanche started their season by raising Sakic's No. 19 to the rafters of the Pepsi Center on Thursday night, then put on a performance that had to delight the franchise's all-time leading scorer by whipping the San Jose Sharks 5-2.

Wojtek Wolski scored twice as the Avs, who finished last in the West in 2008-09, routed the defending Presidents' Trophy winners while looking nothing like the team that was last in the NHL in scoring.

"It was very emotional, Everyone was so excited," Wolski said. "Everyone had goose bumps. We really wanted to get a win for him."

Perhaps the most excited player was Avs rookie Matt Duchene, their first pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. He grew up idolizing Sakic -- and the Avs are counting on the 18-year-old to step into the lineup the way Sakic did a generation ago.

"That Joe Sakic ceremony was one of the most amazing things that I have ever seen in my life," Duchene said. "He almost has an aura that kind of rubs off on guys."

Patrick Marleau had both goals for the Sharks, who fell to 0-5-2 when opening their season on the road and 4-10-4 overall.

"We were sloppy in our own zone in the second period, and the power play needs to contribute," new captain Rob Blake said.

With the crowd still revved up from the retirement ceremony, Darcy Tucker gave Colorado the lead just 2:03 into the game. Tucker ignored the pounding he was taking in front of the net and got a stick on T.J. Galiardi's right-point shot, deflecting it behind Evgeni Nabokov.

"There was a lot of energy in the building, a lot of excitement," first-year Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "It was a special night for a special player. It carried over to the game. The building seemed to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm."

The lead lasted less than four minutes. The Sharks forced a turnover in the Avs' zone, and Joe Pavelski found Marleau alone in the left circle for a quick wrist shot that beat Craig Anderson at 5:47.

Wolski put the Avs ahead to stay at 9:05, swatting home a loose puck after being left alone just outside the crease. It was the fourth consecutive opening night in which he's scored a goal.

"I'm just trying to focus on going to the net," Wolski said. "You see so many  goals come on little pokes, little chips right in the crease. I'm really trying to focus on making sure I have a presence in front."

Cory McLeod made it 3-1 at 5:12 of the second period, beating Nabokov from the slot off an excellent feed from Chris Stewart. Marleau cut the deficit to one with a power-play goal at 8:26, but Wolski was again left alone to whack home a loose puck at 9:48.

John-Michael Liles' wrister from the right point sifted through traffic and past a screened Nabokov at 12:17 for a power-play goal and a three-goal lead.

Anderson, making his Colorado debut after signing with the Avs as a free agent this summer, made 38 saves -- half of them in the third period, when the Sharks outshot Colorado 19-1 but were unable to score.

"It was an emotional night," Anderson said. "The guys really rallied together and played with a lot of emotion. We had everyone do the little things, and we limited turnovers and mistakes."
--John Kreiser,

Material from team online media was used in this report
View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.