DENVER (AP) – Ben Meyers just joined the Colorado Avalanche and really doesn’t know the system, his teammates, his role or even where to go.
Near the net is always a good place to hang out with this squad.
Meyers chipped in a goal down low in his NHL debut and the Avalanche clinched the top seed in the Western Conference with a 7-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
“A pretty special moment,” said Meyers, who had his parents, brother and other family members in attendance.
It’s been a whirlwind several days for Meyers, who captained the University of Minnesota to the Frozen Four, before signing a two-year deal with Colorado on Wednesday.
“It’s fun out there,” Meyers said in an interview during the first-period intermission.
The “fun” only increased 2:21 into the second period when Meyers knocked in a goal. He became the eighth Avalanche player to score in their NHL debut since the team relocated to Denver.
“It’s funny because Coach gives the game plan and stuff but when the puck drops, it seems to all go away and you hope you pick up on things,” Meyers explained. “But it’s really hard in that moment when you’re in front of, I don’t even know how many fans were there tonight, but a lot of fans.”
J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon each scored twice, while Alex Newhook and Mikko Rantanen also scored to help Colorado run its winning streak to nine straight. Darcy Kuemper stopped 29 shots.
The Avalanche have amassed an NHL-best 116 points this season as they work their way toward securing a second straight Presidents’ Trophy. They’re two away from tying the 2000-01 Stanley Cup squad for most points during a season in club history.
“The overall race, like I’ve said before, it’s not the be-all, end-all, but it’s something that we had as a goal from the start of the season – to put ourselves in the best position to succeed,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “Lot of hockey yet to be played, but I like the way our guys are digging in.”
Jordan Staal scored twice before leaving the game with an injury, and Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho each added goals. Carolina trailed 4-0 early in the second period before cutting it to 5-3 heading into the third period.
The Hurricanes remain in a tight race with the New York Rangers for the Metropolitan Division title. The Rangers beat Detroit earlier in the day. Both the Rangers and Hurricanes now have 104 points with six games remaining, including a matchup against each other at New York on April 26.
Frederik Andersen stopped 26 shots before being hurt and giving way to Antti Raanta late in the third. Staal left in the third period after a hard check from Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar.
Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour had no injury updates.
“It doesn’t look good,” Brind’Amour said. “It’s a tough night.”
Same thought from Aho.
“Obviously, a very good team we played against,” he said. “Still, not happy the way we played. We gave way too much.
“It hasn’t gone our way lately and a couple very big players go down tonight. These are the moments the team has to come together and come back even stronger and 100% confident.”
Compher got Colorado on the board first on a power play 6:58 into the game. MacKinnon later added his 30th and 31st goals of the season. He now has nine goals over his last six games.
The crowd let out a collective gasp in the first period when MacKinnon collided with Rantanen in the offensive zone. That was followed by a sigh of relief when both got up.
Andre Burakovsky, Valeri Nichushkin, Rantanen and Devon Toews each had two assists.
THIS & THAT
The Hurricanes made their first trip to Denver since Dec. 19, 2019. … Carolina scored on the power play for the first time since March 31. … The Avalanche improved to a league-best 42-2-4 when scoring first.
Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (upper body) joined the team at Saturday’s morning skate wearing a red, non-contact jersey. … Captain Gabriel Landeskog (knee surgery on March 14) is scheduled to soon be back on the ice. “How involved that is just depends on how he’s feeling,” Bednar said.
Hurricanes: At Arizona on Monday.
Avalanche: Finish a four-game homestand Monday against Washington.