Avalanche begin title defense with 5-2 win over Hawks

Pat Graham, The Associated Press

DENVER — Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin each scored two power-play goals, Mikko Rantanen had four assists and the Colorado Avalanche opened their title defense with a 5-2 win over the Blackhawks on Wednesday.

Moments after hoisting their Stanley Cup banner high above the Ball Arena, the Avalanche got to work.

Andrew Cogliano scored the Avalanche’s first goal of the season in the first period, the only goal of the game that was not scored on the power play.

Nathan MacKinnon, who recently signed a lucrative contract, had two assists, while new goaltender Alexandar Georgiev stopped 15 shots.

In addition to his two goals, Lehkonen got an assist.

Jonathan Toews and Max Domi provided the response. Former Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson was defeated in his first game as Blackhawks head coach.

In the loss, Petr Mrazek made 30 saves.

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