Ryan Johansen scored his first goal of the season in Thursday’s 4-0 home opener victory. But the Avalanche’s new No. 2 center admits he’s having trouble scoring in practice on the team’s undefeated starter Alexandar Georgiev.

“I still haven’t been able to beat him,” Johansen said, reiterating what he told me in September — that Georgiev is as locked in a goalie as he’s seen in training camp.

Colorado’s starting netminder is 4-0-0 this season, surrendering four goals in four games and sporting a whopping .965 save percentage. Georgiev leads the NHL in wins after being tied for the league best with 40 in 2022-23 — his first full season as a starter. While the 27-year-old did receive one second-place vote for the Vezina Trophy, Georgiev is still the NHL’s best-kept secret.

At least that’s how it feels to those around him.

“He is. Yeah,” head coach Jared Bednar bluntly told me. “I think he had a great year last year. You expect the guy to go through some bumps in the road, doubling his starts, almost. And he has a career year.”

Georgiev completed his first year in Colorado with a 40-16-6 record, starting 62 games and recording five shutouts. He recently passed the 100-win threshold, sitting at 102 wins in 183 starts. He has 44 of those victories in just 66 games with the Avs. And with the starting position secured in every way, he’ll look to only build on those numbers as the undefeated Avalanche continue their push towards a seventh straight playoff appearance.

“He’s excited and knows this is his job. He’s taken a lot of ownership in working extremely hard in the offseason, through camp and through now in the regular season,” Bednar said. “He wants the net. Highly competitive guy. That’s exactly what we want in the net.”

Johansen added: “I’m happy for him. I feel like he’s proven to the hockey world right now what he’s about, and I couldn’t be more proud of him and how he works. And how professional he is in leading this team.”

Georgiev was acquired by the Avs shortly after the team claimed its third Stanley Cup. Colorado gave up two third-round draft picks and a fifth-rounder for the New York Rangers’ second goalie. It’s a deal that has since proven to be yet another in a long list of heists by the management team.

Given what the Avs were able to do with Philipp Grubauer in his last year and Darcy Kuemper in his only season with the team, the general feeling is that any goalie would thrive behind Colorado’s star-studded blue line. But Georgiev has stuck out. He’s earned the opportunity to be linked with the best in the game.

It often takes a star to recognize another. And superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon is all-in on his netminder’s play.

“He’s unreal. He works so hard. He has a shutout and he’s on the ice for an hour today working hard with (goalie coach) Jussi Parkkila,” MacKinnon told me. “He’s an awesome guy. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a stud and hopefully, he gets some Vezina recognition.

“It’s four games, but I can’t see him slowing down.”