It was all bright for the Avalanche on home ice Wednesday night when Andre Burakovsky scored in the first period for a 1-0 lead over the St Louis Blues.
The Blues responded with two goals from Oskar Sundqvist in a 4-1 win in Denver.
Jordan Binnington made 26 saves for the victory.
“Excited to play a hockey game,” Binnington said. “We came out strong as a team. Couple penalties, but we did a good job. The boys stepped up, and we found a way to get it done. We played right until the end.”
The Avs scored once on four power play chances.
“The biggest thing I said this morning was, are we ready to compete?” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “Compete against a live opponent, someone wearing a different jersey. As hard as you compete in (training) camp, as much as I liked our camp, it’s a completely different level when you get the opposition in your building. To me, we just got outworked right from the start. Not ready to go, lazy habits, how it was going to be easier than it was. It showed.”
Sundqvist got more playing time with Mike Hoffman having visa issues.
“It’s next man up,” Sundqvist said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s me or someone else. It’s always someone that’s stepping up. That’s one of our strengths with this team, that we got that mentality. No one really changes their game, they just move up the lineup and play the same style. It’s nice to see.”
“I think the first period we didn’t have our legs,” the Avs’ Mikko Rantanen said. “We were not good enough in the battles; we just blew it in too many battles, giving up too many chances. Short camp, first game, so we just have to learn from it now. We didn’t have a lot going. It’s compete level, it’s not system or anything, it’s in our head. We have to be prepared. St. Louis plays like that every year, they’re a heavy team, they check hard, so you have to respond to that. You can’t sit back and watch like we did in the first. That’s what cost us the most, I think.”