DENVER (AP) -Paul Stastny had his first career hat trick and Andrew Brunette added three assists as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Dallas Stars for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Avalanche moved to 16-5-7 in franchise history in season openers, the best winning percentage in the NHL.
Colorado picked up where it left off last season. The Avalanche finished 2006-07 as the hottest team in hockey, going 15-2-2 over their final 19 games in a frenzied dash toward a playoff spot. The Avalanche missed out by a point.
Colorado led 4-1 to begin the third period, but the Stars made things interesting when Jokinen scored midway through the third and Hagman added another at 17:10.
The Stars pulled goalie Marty Turco with 1:10 remaining, but couldn't score.
Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj made a flurry of saves in the closing seconds to preserve the win. He finished with 31 saves.
Stastny scored the Avalanche's first goal of the season 18:11 into the opening period and then added two more in the second. The second-year center simply carried his preseason play into the start of the regular season. Stastny scored five goals in exhibition play, which was tied for second-most in the NHL.
Stastny finished last season with 28 goals and wound up second in the Calder Trophy voting behind Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.
Although the Avalanche signed big name free agents in Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan over the summer, the newcomer who made the biggest impact in the season opener was Hlinka, who made his NHL debut Wednesday night.
Hlinka joined the Avalanche from the Czech League, where he shared the scoring title. He had 19 goals and 38 assists in 48 games for HC Sparta last season.
Hlinka was second in the NHL in the preseason with seven assists.
Smyth had two shots on goal in his debut, and Hannan spent a team-leading 28:05 on the ice.
Notes: Hagman made his 400th career NHL game memorable with a goal and an assist. ... Colorado led the Western Conference in scoring last season, averaging 3.26 goals a game. ... Turco finished with 19 saves.