The Avalanche opened up the 2003-04 season at home against the Chicago Blackhawks. Colorado won 5-0 while featuring a top line of Kariya and Selanne centered by Sakic. Kariya notched a goal and 2 assists while Selanne picked up an assist on Kariya’s goal.
It was certainly a promising start.
Their second game, a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, saw Kariya pot Colorado’s lone goal with assists from Selanne and Sakic. They rounded back into form in their next contest, a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, a game that was capped off with Selanne’s first goal of the season.
This was followed by a 6-3 pounding by the Edmonton Oilers. Kariya notched his third goal of the year, again with assists from Selanne and Sakic.
Colorado carried a 2-2 record into an October 21 matchup against the Boston Bruins. Despite opening the scoring, the Avalanche dropped the game 4-1. Adding to their early-season woes was the loss of one of their new faces when Kariya left the game with a sprained wrist.
By the time Kariya returned to the Avalanche lineup on November 13, Colorado had a record of 9-5-1. Both he and Selanne were held without a point in a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes and things only got worse.
The next game, a November 15 bout against the Dallas Stars, saw Colorado pick up a 3-0 victory but lose Kariya, who re-injured his wrist.
As the season progressed, Colorado’s game began to even out. This culminated in an 11-win January. Despite looking better during this stretch, the Avalanche had up and down months in both February and March.
Kariya, who had returned to the lineup again in January, suffered an ankle injury in the final game of the season, a 2-1 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators.
Colorado finished the season with 40 wins, their second-lowest total since arriving in Denver. This season marked the first time that the Avalanche failed to win their division, finishing 2nd behind the Vancouver Canucks.
Finishing as the #4 seed in the Western Conference brought them a first-round matchup against the Dallas Stars. Colorado prevailed in 6 games; Selanne picked up a pair of assists while Kariya remained sidelined with his injured ankle.
Their second-round opponent was a familiar one to Selanne: the San Jose Sharks. This was a slog from the opening puck drop as Colorado dropped the first 3 games, being outscored 10-3. They came back to win the next 2 and got the injured Kariya back for Game 6.
Unfortunately, the Avalanche were defeated 3-1 and their season was over. Selanne picked up 3 assists while appearing in 10 games; Kariya added an assist in his lone postseason appearance.