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game recap

Varlamov makes 20 saves, Avalanche top Wild

MacKinnon scores, Rantanen has goal, assist for Colorado

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves for the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center on Thursday in the season opener for each team.

"His strength is usually when he gets 40-plus shots," Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon said. "Sometimes when he gets 25 he plays worse. I think he's grown so much as a goalie. His mindset is he can play a low-shot game and stay sharp, and he was great."

Mikko Rantanen and Carl Soderberg each had a goal and an assist, and MacKinnon and J.T. Compher scored for the Avalanche.

 

[WATCH: All Wild vs. Avalanche highlights]

 

Zach Parise scored, and Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves for the Wild.

"It's definitely stuff that can be cleaned up," Wild center Eric Staal said. "We can be better, and we know that. Collectively and individually, we can raise our level. It was a tough one, especially that first half. We'll try and work through it and shake it off, be ready for our home opener Saturday (against the Vegas Golden Knights)."

Parise gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead at 6:14 of the first period, redirecting a pass from Mikko Koivu in the slot past Varlamov.

Soderberg scored to tie it 1-1 at 12:29 of the first period after he skated down left wing, used Wild defenseman Nick Seeler as a screen and beat Dubnyk glove side.

MacKinnon scored at 10:26 of the second period to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. Rantanen slid a cross-ice pass from the left circle through the crease to MacKinnon, who tapped it in at the right post.

Video: MIN@COL: MacKinnon finishes Rantanen's superb dish

"His vision is awesome, he's an amazing winger," MacKinnon said of Rantanen. "He's got so many good tools, it's a privilege to play with him."

Said Dubnyk, "It's tough, I mean [MacKinnon] can get there. He's fast and he's able to get there. Obviously, he's a right-handed shot so his stick just needs to be out there. They made a great pass. It just looked like there wasn't a lane to pass there and [Rantanen] made a nice pass, so he's a threat. Good players make good plays."

Rantanen scored an empty-net goal with 1:53 left in the third period to give Colorado a 3-1 lead, and Compher extended it to 4-1 with an empty-net goal with 19.9 seconds remaining.

"You don't want to think about those too much," Rantanen said of his two-point game. "Obviously the biggest thing is for the team to get two points. There are still things we can be better at as a line, especially defensively and in the neutral zone, but it was a good start and big two points. That's the way to get things rolling."

The Wild had chances to tie the game with a power play late in the second period and another early in the third, but were unable to capitalize.

"We had our opportunities, missed open nets and shot the puck wide," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "But [Dubnyk] was really good tonight. He kept us in it. When you keep a team in, usually you find a way to score one. Unfortunately, they got two empty-netters."

Video: MIN@COL: Soderberg goes bar down for the equalizer

 

They said it

"It was a lot of things. At the end of the day, up until we had a little decent push at the end, we didn't do nearly enough to generate offense. It was reflected on the scoreboard, on the shots (outshot 40-21). I thought we had good power-play action, moved it around well and had some really good opportunities. But 5-on-5, it was just not enough to create offense for us." -- Wild forward Zach Parise

Video: MIN@COL: Parise bangs home Koivu's sweet dish

 

"He was good. He was smothering pucks, on low jam plays to the net he held his ground. He was our best penalty killer." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on goaltender Semyon Varlamov

Video: MIN@COL: Varlamov stops Staal's chance on the rush

 

"A real fun way to start my career here. I thought we defended real well. Coming off exhibitions, as a new guy, you're not sure how things are going to go, to move the puck and defend. I thought we did a real good job." -- Avalanche forward Matt Calvert, who signed as a free agent July 1.

 

Need to know

Varlamov, who played in his 400th NHL game, set a Colorado record by making his eighth consecutive opening start. … Avalanche forward Sheldon Dries made his NHL debut and had two shots in 5:13. … The Avalanche activated forward Vladislav Kamenev and defenseman Anton Lindholm from injured reserve and assigned them to Colorado of the American Hockey League. … Wild defenseman Ryan Suter had one shot and two blocks in 25:21 in his first game since he fractured his fibula on March 31 against the Dallas Stars.

 

What's next

Wild: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, FS-N, FS-WI, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, ALT, NBCSP, NHL.TV) 

Video: Avalanche open season with 4-1 win against Wild

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