DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche raced out to three goals in the opening 10 minutes to send the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-2 defeat Wednesday night at Ball Arena — the third straight season the Hawks have opened with a loss.
Dominik Kubalík and Connor Murphy accounted for the Hawks goals, but as a whole the visitors didn’t look ready to take a regular-season bow on prime-time national TV.
The Hawks set out to get bigger in the offseason, but it didn’t seem to matter when they were the ones taking many of the big hits, getting knocked off the puck or knocked to the ice.
Hawks management also made it its mission to improve the defense, bringing in new blood Seth Jones and Jake McCabe, but they were literally tripped up by coverage lapses.
McCabe appeared to trip on teammate Tyler Johnson’s skate and stumbled to the ice while trying to turn and defend Jack Johnson, who streaked through the neutral zone unchallenged and found himself one-on-one against Marc-André Fleury for the opening goal 4:26 into the game.
Gabriel Landeskog scored 1:22 later and Bowen Byram at the 9:34 mark.
The Hawks initially matched the Avalanche attack for attack, but Colorado’s speed soon turned possession into a lopsided affair, with the Avalanche maintaining a 76% Corsi-for percentage and battering Fleury with 17 shots on goal in the first 12 minutes.
The Hawks had two in that span and went more than nine minutes between shots on goal.
They settled down by the end of the first period, drawing a penalty with 4:30 left. The second power-play unit came through, with Ian Mitchell setting up Kubalík for a one-timer. Henrik Borgström also was credited with an assist.
Murphy banked in his third-period goal off the post from the blue line.