LAS VEGAS (AP) — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was a little lost as a visitor to T-Mobile Arena. While the rest of his Colorado Avalanche teammates knew their way around the visitors’ locker room, Bellemare was a newcomer, even after spending the last two seasons with Vegas.
But, everything looked familiar once Bellemare got onto the ice.
Nadem Kadri and Matt Calvert each scored twice, Bellemare had a goal and two assists against his former team and the Avalanche beat the Golden Knights 6-1 on Friday.
Cale Makar also scored for the Avalanche, who improved to 8-1-1.
In a matinee on the Las Vegas Strip on the observance of Nevada Day, it was Colorado’s day in Bellemare’s first game against his former team since signing with the Avalanche in the summer.
“It was weird, I’ve got to be honest,” Bellemare said. “It’s so soon (into the season). I thought that wasn’t going to be a difference if it’s now or if it’s later in the season. … Once the game starts you just think about your job and then you work.
“It makes it easier that we got the win.”
Colorado, which has scored at least one goal in 23 of its 30 regulation periods, dominated Vegas from the drop, sparked by Bellemare’s goal 28 seconds into the game.
Vegas’ former fourth-line center intercepted Mark Stone’s cross-ice pass, skated around Deryk Engelland and sent a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.
“Everything went my way, the puck was like a magnet,” Bellemare said. “It felt like it just stayed with me. I tried stuff that I’ve probably never tried before and I fired, and it was in the net. And I’m like, ‘What the heck just happened?’ It was a good game for me.”
It wasn’t too long after Bellemare’s goal a touching video tribute played, highlighting his time with the Golden Knights — including their run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season — drawing a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd.
“I’ve never really had that before, so I don’t know how to compare it to anything, but it felt good,” Bellemare said. “Thank God the video wasn’t too long because I would have had a hard time focusing on the (penalty) kill right after that.”
It was an area the Avalanche were clearly focused by dominating Vegas, as Colorado was 4 for 4 with its penalty kill, thwarting a Golden Knights power play that came into the game ranked seventh with the man-advantage at home.
The Avalanche closed out an impressive six-game road trip with a 4-1-1 record, but it was a quick trip home between the fifth and sixth games of the junket that coach Jared Bednar said was a huge boost for his weary troops.
“We played some real tough games there and I think just to get home and have the day off and get a little bit of rest physically, but also to get a mental break away from the game, spend some time with friends and family for a day, it paid off for us tonight,” Bednar said. “I liked our legs. I thought we were skating real well, we looked real focused on the details tonight as well.”
William Karlsson was the only who could find the back of the net for Vegas, which dropped to 3-3-0 at home this season. Colorado goaltender Phillip Grubauer was stellar thereafter, finishing with 25 saves. Vegas’ 26 shots on goal were its second lowest this season.
“It’s about doing the right things and playing the right way. I don’t care who scores, I really don’t,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “But we gotta keep the puck out of our net, that’s our biggest thing right now and we gotta play a lot better team defense than that.”
Fleury was replaced by Garret Sparks with 7:24 left in the second period after allowing four goals and making just 22 saves. Sparks, who won 14 of his 37 career appearances with Toronto, allowed two goals and made 13 saves in his first appearance with Vegas since being acquired from the Maple Leafs in July.
Kadri made it 2-1 just before the end of the first period, and Makar extended Colorado’s lead to two with his first NHL goal. Kadri’s second goal midway through the second period essentially ended Fleury’s night.
Calvert scored Colorado’s last two goals, both assisted by Bellemare.
NOTES: Makar leads all NHL rookies in assists (8) and is tied for first with Buffalo’s Victor Olofsson with nine points. … MacKinnon is the first Avalanche in franchise history to open the season on a 10-game point streak.
Colorado: Hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday
Vegas: Hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday in the second of a four-game homestand.
By W.G. RAMIREZ Associated Press
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