CALGARY, Alberta — The excitement of opening night, the banner-raising ceremony and the start of a new season have come and gone.

Following what was a well-executed pre-game ceremony, the Avalanche defeated familiar face Jack Johnson and the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2, scoring four power-play goals and relying heavily on their top-four forwards.

Mikko Rantanen had four assists and Nathan MacKinnon added two. Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen pitched in with two power-play goals, each.

But the next challenge is expected to be a lot tougher. Former Av Nazem Kadri is slated to make his debut against his former team after signing a seven-year, $49 million contract with the Calgary Flames less than two months ago.

“It’ll be good to see him but I don’t know if it’s great playing against him,” head coach Jared Bednar said.

Kadri had 87 points in 71 games last year before a memorable playoff run capped off with a Stanley Cup Final game-winner in Game 4 in Tampa Bay.

“You know, he’s a good player,” Bednar said. “I hate to see him go but that’s the business and again, we got to go in there and focus on getting two points.”

While the Avs had quite a bit of change to their depth pieces over the summer, the Flames had an overhaul in its core group. After Johnny Gaudreau chose to walk in free agency, Calgary went on to trade star forward Matthew Tkachuk to Florida for winger Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar and other pieces. It then added the top center on the market in Kadri.

Huberdeau and Weegar are also expected to debut Thursday night.

Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

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