Final

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Colorado leads 1-0

Game 1: Wednesday, October 3rd
Avalanche3Final
Penguins1

Avalanche 3

(1-0-0, 2 pts)

Penguins 1

(0-1-0, 0 pts)

8:00 PM ET, October 3, 2001

Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
COL 0 2 13
PIT 0 0 11

Top Skaters

Colorado: C. Drury - 1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, +1

Pittsburgh: A. Kovalev - 1 A, 5 SOG, +1

Roy makes 32 saves as Avs start Cup defense

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- They didn't have Ray Bourque. They didn't have Peter Forsberg. They didn't have a good preseason. What the Colorado Avalanche have is the Stanley Cup and, for at least the first night of a new season, they showed exactly why.

Patrick Roy

AP

Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy came close to another shutout, but Robert Lang spoiled his bid with 6:59 left in the game.

Vaclav Nedorost had a goal and an assist in his first NHL game and Patrick Roy, as dominating as he was at the end of last season, shut down Pittsburgh in the Avalanche's 3-1 victory Wednesday night.

Roy, the playoffs MVP last season as Colorado won its second cup in five years, turned aside 32 of 33 shots and was working on his 53rd career shutout until Robert Lang scored with 6:59 remaining in the opening night game.

Mario Lemieux had a quiet night for Pittsburgh in his first season opener in five years, setting up a couple of good scoring chances but getting few of his own as the Penguins played their first game since 1989 without five-time scoring champion Jaromir Jagr on their roster. He was traded to Washington during the offseason.

The Avalanche were without Bourque, the star defenseman who retired after finally winning the cup in his 22nd season, and Forsberg, who is taking a medical leave of absence. But it was the Penguins who seemed to miss their former star the most.

Asked whether the Penguins missed Jagr's scoring touch, Lemieux cut off the question and said, "Don't even start with that."

Roy didn't want to hear about who wasn't there for Pittsburgh when scorers such as Lemieux, Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka and Lang are around.

"A lot of teams have lost good players and there will be a period of adjustment, and our team knows that," Roy said of the Avs, who won only once in the preseason. "We have to be patient and take time for guys to adjust and feel comfortable in a new system."

Colorado's mastery of the Penguins is nothing new -- the Avalanche are 7-0-1 in Pittsburgh since moving to Denver in 1995 -- but many of their players are.

The Avs have 10 players on their season-opening roster who weren't there last season, including Nedorost, a 19-year-old rookie and a 2000 first-round draft pick who scored Colorado's first goal and set up its second.

"To get a goal in my first game, I would have to say I'm lucky," he said.

Nedorost, the star of the Czech Republic's gold medal team in the world junior championships this year, took a drop pass from Steven Reinprecht in the right circle and flipped a wrist shot that glanced off Johan Hedberg's pads and into the net on a power play at 1:51 of the second.

"You can't ask for anything more than that: first game, first goal," Joe Sakic said. "He can just relax now, that takes the pressure off him. He's going to have a great career, because he's got a lot of talent."

Until Nedorost's goal, the Penguins had forced the play, outshooting Colorado 14-6 in the first period without getting a shot by Roy, who is 23-8-6 against them. Stephane Richer and rookie Kris Beech both put shots off the post.

"The way they played in the first period, I'm sure they were deflated by the way Patrick kept the puck out of the net," Sakic said.

Lemieux said, "That's why he (Roy) has over 400 wins."

Nedorost, playing at the time on Colorado's top line, then got the second assist on Sakic's chip-shot goal from the low slot at 9:28 of the second. Sakic managed to get his stick on the puck even as defenseman Darius Kasparaitis screened him from the net.

Chris Drury came off the bench, went to the net and put in a rebound of Alex Tanguay's shot past a sprawling Hedberg at 8:12 of the third to make it 3-0.

The Avalanche effectively controlled Pittsburgh's dangerous offense even while playing without two of their top three defensemen from a year ago -- Bourque and Adam Foote, who is injured and is expected to miss about a month.

Pittsburgh went 0-for-5 on the power play and is 0-for-12 against Colorado the last two seasons.

"That's hockey," Penguins coach Ivan Hlinka said. "Sometimes you play a good game and you still don't win."

Game notes
The final score was the same as Colorado's Game 7 victory over New Jersey in the Stanley Cup finals. ... The teams won't meet again this season unless they reach the Stanley Cup finals. The Penguins do not play in Denver. ... With Jagr gone, Lemieux again wears the "C" as the Penguins' captain, as well as being their CEO, chairman and owner. ... The Penguins played their home opener before the Steelers did. The Steelers don't play in Heinz Field until Sunday. ... Colorado forward Eric Messier injured a shoulder while being slammed into the boards by Richer in the first period and did not return. Richer was penalized. ... Colorado is 9-1-3 in its last 13 games against Pittsburgh.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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