St. Paul, MN – Dany Heatley tallied a pair of power play goals and Zach Parise added two assists in his Wild debut, as the new-look Minnesota Wild earned a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in the season opener for both teams on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center.
Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter were both part of Minnesota's offseason overhaul, as the Wild signed the pair to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4.
"It was awesome," Parise said of his first game in front of the Minnesota faithful. "It was electric right at the beginning of the game. It was fun."
Mikael Granlund scored once in his NHL debut, Pierre-Marc Bouchard also notched a goal and Mikko Koivu finished with two assists for the Wild, who missed the playoffs for a fourth straight year last season.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 25 shots in the victory.
John Mitchell and Cody McLeod each scored for the Avalanche, who missed the postseason for the fourth time in six seasons last year. Semyon Varlamov allowed all four goals on 35 shots.
Semyon Varlamov surrendered all four goals on 35 shots in the setback.
Colorado struck first just over two minutes in. From below the end line, Milan Hejduk slid a pass in front of the net that Steve Downie tried to put home with a backhand. Backstrom made the initial stop, but Mitchell jammed in the rebound to make it 1-0 at the 2:07 mark of the first period.
Minnesota evened things early in the second thanks to a power-play goal from Heatley. Parise fired a shot off the pads of Varlamov before Heatley deposited the rebound in the back of the net to knot the game at the 3:26 mark.
The Wild then jumped in front less than a minute later, as Granlund won an offensive zone faceoff and then tipped in a point shot from defenseman Jared Spurgeon to give Minnesota a 2-1 edge just over four minutes into the stanza.
Heatley added another tally near the midpoint of the frame with his team on a 5-on-3 advantage. Heatley was camped in front of the net and pounded in a feed from Parise to make it 3-1 at the 10:01 mark of the second period.
Colorado cut the lead in half just over five minutes into the third period. McLeod corralled a rebound off a Greg Zanon miss and buried a backhand into the back of the net to make it 3-2 early in the final frame.
However, Minnesota was able to add some insurance late in the third, as Cal Clutterbuck stepped around a defender and fired a hard shot off Varlamov. The rebound bounced around before landing on the stick of Bouchard, who ripped one into the back of the net to make it 4-2 with 1:35 left in the contest.
"We just took too many penalties," Colorado forward David Jones admitted. "Unfortunately they made the most of our mistakes. It's frustrating, especially when you play that well in the first period."
Minnesota has won 11 straight home openers at Xcel Energy Center ... Backstrom improved to 21-5-2 against Colorado ... Varlamov fell to 4-1-0 in five starts versus Minnesota ... It was the 61st career two-goal game for Heatley ... Suter blocked a game-high four shots.