Barry Gutierrez/Associated Press
Barry Gutierrez/Associated Press
DENVER – Jamie Benn scored his first two goals of the season, and the Dallas Stars beat Colorado 3-2 on Monday, spoiling the night for Milan Hejduk as the Avalanche forward was honored for playing in his 1,000th NHL game.
Brenden Morrow also scored, and Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves for Dallas.
Hejduk had a goal – as he did in his first career game – and P.A. Parenteau added another in the Avalanche’s first home loss of the season.
There was a scary moment early in the game when referee Chris Rooney was hit by a puck after a shot by Dallas defenseman Jamie Oleksiak deflected off the skate of Colorado’s Paul Stastny.
The puck appeared to carom off the head of Rooney, who stayed down behind the Avalanche net. Rooney eventually skated off the ice.
No update was given on his condition..
The Avalanche committed two costly penalties late in the third, preventing them from mounting much offense. They pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov with 49 seconds remaining but couldn’t score on Lehtonen. The game ended with the puck on Hejduk’s stick, but he was unable to take a final shot.
Morrow nearly gave Dallas a two-goal lead midway through the second period when he poked in a rebound.
However, he clipped Varlamov in the process, and the goal was disallowed. Morrow was given a penalty for goaltender interference.
Although the Avalanche didn’t convert on that penalty, they tied it at 2 when Parenteau knocked a puck out of the air for a power-play goal.
But Benn gave the Stars the lead right back when he lined a shot past Varlamov during a delayed penalty.
Benn and Morrow staked the Stars to a 2-0 first-period lead before either team really had a chance to settle in. Morrow’s first of the season was set up by Jaromir Jagr, who has at least one point against the Avalanche in seven consecutive games – a streak dating to 2002.
Dallas had a chance to extend its early lead but couldn’t score despite having a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes.
Late in the first period, the Avalanche got on the board when Hejduk gathered a rebound and put it past Lehtonen.
Hejduk was the star of the night as he skated in his 1,000th NHL game, becoming the 30th player to reach that milestone with the same organization. He is the first player to do it with Colorado.
Joe Sakic played in 1,378 games for the organization, but 508 were with the Quebec Nordiques and 870 after the team relocated to the Mile High City in 1995.
There was a video tribute before the game for Hejduk, along with Sakic presenting Hejduk with a silver hockey stick. The Avs also rolled the red carpet onto the ice so his wife and twin boys could join him.
Hejduk still remembers his first game – a 4-3 loss to Ottawa on Oct. 10, 1998, in which he had a goal and an assist.
“I didn’t know if I’d ever get here, and yet here I am,” said Hejduk, who was picked in the fourth round of the 1994 draft. “Pretty happy that I played for one organization; that’s definitely special.”
Making the honor all the more meaningful was the presence of Jagr, who is also from the Czech Republic.
“The best player in the history of the game there,” said Hejduk, who was teammates with Jagr when their country captured a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. “Look at his numbers; I haven’t achieved half of what he did.”
Still, Hejduk, who will turn 37 on Valentine’s Day, is three points shy of joining Jagr (1,659) and Patrik Elias (901) as the only Czech-born players in NHL history to reach 800 points.
“I’ve had a lot of good memories,” Hejduk said.