There was promise and concern for the Devils as they opened their 2017-18 season with a victory.
No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier looked comfortable in his NHL debut and fellow prized prospect Will Butcher became the first player in franchise history with three points in his NHL debut as he had three power-play assists as the Devils, with eight new players in their lineup, topped the Avalanche, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center.
Rookie Jesper Bratt added a power-play goal and an assist on defenseman John Moore's short-handed goal.
But the Devils also lost veteran right wings Drew Stafford and Kyle Palmieri, both among the top six forwards, to lower body injuries.
Cory Schneider started his season with 40 saves.
The Devils now embark on a two-game road trip to Buffalo and Toronto starting on Monday against the Sabres.
The Devils, continuing their strong, up-tempo play from their 5-1-1 preseason, which ended with a 4-1 win at Washington on Sept. 27, put tremendous early pressure on the Avalanche, taking a 1-0 lead at 4:04 of the first period on Adam Henrique's power-play goal.
The Devils also took the game's first eight shots.
Butcher got the primary assist on the goal, taking the shot from the left point that Henrique tipped in the slot.
The Hobey Baker Award winner as college hockey's top player then notched secondary assists on the Devils' next two power play goals as they led 3-1 through two periods.
Of course, the lead came at a cost.
Stafford exited the game after the first period, captain Andy Greene left the ice at 8:00 of the second period but returned to start the third period and Palmieri, who had two power-play assists, took a knee-on-knee hit from Erik Johnson at 17:44 of the second period – the NHL is likely to review that play that earned Johnson a two-minute minor for kneeing – and was helped off the ice.
Jimmy Hayes, who earned a spot on the Devils' opening day roster after coming to training camp on a Professional Tryout Offer, made it 2-0 on the power play at 2:52 of the second period as he backhanded in a shot past Jonathan Bernier (35 saves) at the left post after Palmieri took the initial shot.
Bratt's power-play goal from the right circle with 27.9 seconds to go in the second period made it 3-1 after Carl Soderberg's power-play goal at the crease ended Schneider's shutout bid at 12:04 of the second period.
Moore concluded the scoring at 14:00 of the third period after Bratt pushed the puck up ice to him for the short-handed goal. It helped the Devils kill off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to Marcus Johansson, one of the Devils' key offseason acquisitions, at 10:49.