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Stastny, Avs dim Stars 4-3

by Brian Compton
Paul Stastny notced his first career hat trick against the Stars on Wednesday night.
In terms of encores, this one was pretty good.

Coming off a dazzling rookie season, Paul Stastny notched a hat trick and Andrew Brunette added three assists to give the Colorado Avalanche season-opening a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday night.

Ryan Smyth was held scoreless in his Colorado debut, while Stars forward Mike Modano remained seven points away from becoming the all-time leading U.S.-born scorer.

Stastny, who put up 28 goals and 78 points last season, scored Colorado’s first goal of the new season at 18:11 of the first period. He added two more in the second before Wojtek Wolski, another second-year player, gave the Avalanche a 4-1 lead at 16:55.

“I think anytime you win the opener, get three goals, you can’t complain,” said Stastny, son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny. “It doesn’t matter who scores, anyone on this team can chip in. Today I was a little lucky and helped out because we needed all the goals.”

The three-goal night was a continuation of Stastny’s preseason success – he had five goals in exhibition play, tied for second in the NHL.

In other opening-night games, Ottawa beat Toronto 4-3 in overtime, Detroit topped Anaheim 3-2 in a shootout and Montreal defeated Carolina 4-3 in OT.

Dallas got goals from Jeff Halpern, Niklas Hagman and Jussi Jokinen, the last two in the third period, but that wasn’t enough for the Stars to win what would have been their 11th straight season opener.

The victory was a first one for Colorado coach Joel Quenneville, who had not won in nine previous opening-night games.

Senators 4, Maple Leafs 3, OT
Ottawa got a quick return on its investment in Dany Heatley, who scored the tying and game-winning goals as the Senators spoiled opening night for a sellout crowd in Toronto,
The Leafs led 3-2 on a second-period goal by Matt Stajan before Heatley tied the game with 5:36 left in regulation. He gave the Senators their fourth season-opening win in Toronto in as many visits by beating Andrew Raycroft at 2:57 of OT.

Before the game, Heatley signed a six-year, $45 million extension that will keep him off  the free-agent market this summer.

Heatley now has 22 goals and 41 points in 25 career games against the Maple Leafs.

"That's what goal-scorers are," said John Paddock, who won in his debut as Ottawa coach, said of Heatley. "You saw Brett Hull many nights, you don't think he's got anything and all of sudden he gets two chances and he scores. That's Heater. They were both goal-scorer's goals."

Nik Antropov scored twice and newcomer Jason Blake added an assist for the Leafs, who get a quick chance to avenge the loss when the teams move to Ottawa on Thursday night.

Red Wings 3, Ducks 2, SO
Leave it Hockeytown to provide such a thriller on opening night.

Jiri Hudler is mobbed by his teammates after scoring the game-winning shootout goal against the Anaheim Ducks.
Second-year forward Jiri Hudler scored the lone goal of a shootout as Detroit beat Anaheim at Joe Louis Arena.

Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek faced just 15 shots through the first three periods and stopped all three Anaheim shooters in the shootout. Certainly, the 42-year-old netminder wouldn’t mind facing that number of shots on a consistent basis.

“I think it was a very exciting game for the crowd and for everybody who was in the building, including the players," Hasek said.

Todd Bertuzzi scored his first goal as a Duck, which came against his former team at 14:32 of the first period to erase a 1-0 deficit. Ryan Getzlaf put the Ducks in front with 42 seconds remaining in the second period, but Tomas Holmstrom tied the game 4:04 into the third period.

Anaheim was able to escape Detroit with a point, thanks mostly to a dazzling effort by goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who finished with 40 saves.

"We've got to be happy we got a point, but at the same time, I don't think we played nearly as good as we have to," Bertuzzi said.

The game was the third of the season for Anaheim, which split two contests against Los Angeles in London last weekend.

Canadiens 3, Hurricanes 2, OT
Saku Koivu spoiled the start of the Hurricanes’ 10th season in North Carolina by scoring his second goal of the game 1:05 into overtime to give Montreal a season-opening victory at the RBC Center.

Montreal, which had the League’s top power play last season at 22.8 percent, looks primed to repeat that success. All three of the Canadiens’ tallies came with the man advantage, as Mark Streit tied the game at 1-1 13:01 into the opening period after Carolina’s Eric Staal had opened the scoring 3:37 into the game.

Koivu then stole the show. The Canadiens’ captain gave his team a 2-1 lead 9:31 into the third period when he took a pass from Andrei Markov and fired a wrist shot past Carolina goalie Cam Ward.

"Today it worked," Koivu said of the Canadiens’ power play, which clicked despite the absence of defenseman Sheldon Souray, who had 19 PPGs last season before signing with Edmonton. "We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves ... (but) the power play is a big part. Just don't expect us to score three power-play goals every game. It is a good start. If you can chip in once in a while with the power plays, it's going to make your job a little bit easier."

Carolina forced OT on a rare goal by defenseman Bret Hedican, who scored on a screened slap shot with 7:12 left in regulation. But the Hurricanes dropped their fifth straight opener when Koivu converted a feed from Michael Ryder after Niclas Wallin was whistled for cross-checking 46 seconds into overtime.

"Obviously, you build confidence with every win and when you play a tough team like them, it is a good thing," Koivu said.

Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik played his first game as a Canadien and the 1,000th of his NHL career.
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