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Wild open season by routing Avalanche

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Carter said he was dizzy on the bench Thursday watching his team's first line cycle through the Colorado Avalanche zone.

The trio of Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville buzzed seemingly all night, dazzling fans and teammates alike, during the Wild's 5-0 season-opening victory at Xcel Energy Center.

Colorado simply had no answer for the Parise line, which was on the ice for four of the five goals. The Wild scored four goals in the second period, something they did only once all last season, and fired a club-record 48 shots on goal in a dominating victory.

Parise was especially good, scoring a goal, assisting on two others, peppering Colorado goaltenders with nine shots and finishing with a plus-4 rating. Pominville and Granlund each had two-point nights, as did defenseman Ryan Suter.

"It was fun. Those games are fun," Parise said. "You're getting chances a lot. When our line is playing well, that's the way we want to play and support each other. It was a good start for us."

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopped 16 shots for his third NHL shutout but was rarely tested.

The Wild were ready from the start, blitzing the Avalanche with seven shots in the first 62 seconds. They outshot Colorado 17-5 in the first period and led 1-0 on a goal by Pominville.

The play was started by a long outlet pass by Suter, who passed the puck 110 feet and off the far-side wall to Granlund at the offensive blue line. GRanlund's shot was stopped by Semyon Varlamov and Parise was tied up in front before Pominville swooped in and slammed home the rebound.

"It's one thing to be ready for the drop of the puck, but it's another to be ready for the things that follow that," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I thought we did a good job of that."

Minnesota blew the game open in a span of less than 13 minutes in the second period.

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon made it 2-0 at 4:37 with a backdoor tap-in after a brilliant pass through the crease by Parise.

Parise scored less than three minutes later, four seconds into a 4-on-4. Granlund won the faceoff in the neutral zone and pushed the puck forward to Parise, who fired from the high slot. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped the first shot, but Parise grabbed his own rebound and buried it for his first goal of the season.

"I think it was a combination of us playing pretty well and them not playing very well, and I think they'd probably said that too," Parise said. "We know that's a much better team than what they showed tonight."

Nino Niederreiter scored off a scramble at 13:21, and Suter's slapper from just inside the blue line beat Varlamov at 16:58.

"To me, it was one word. We didn't compete," said Avalanche coach Patrick Roy, whose team will try to avenge the loss when the Wild come to Pepsi Center on Saturday. "Competing was the word that was missing in our game. We didn't engage, we avoided every battle, they were faster on every puck than we were."

Minnesota outshot Colorado 48-16, and Varlamov was replaced by Reto Berra after two periods. Varlamov made 33 saves on 38 shots and stopped several other quality chances to keep the game from becoming more lopsided.

"Varly gave us a chance to get back in this game after the first period," Colorado forward Jarome Iginla said. "But they played very well tonight. They won a lot of the one-on-one battles. It was a night where we just weren't nearly good enough."

Iginla was held off the board entirely in his Avalanche debut, registering no shots in 18-plus minutes of ice time.

There was also no retribution against the Wild's Matt Cooke after his knee-on-knee hit on Colorado's Tyson Barrie in Game 3 of the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the teams last spring. Barrie missed the rest of the series and played in his first game since the incident with no ill-effects. His 21:06 on the ice was second to fellow defenseman Erik Johnson.

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