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A Force Between The Pipes

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche
When the Colorado Avalanche needed Semyon Varlamov, the Russian goaltender stood tall.

Varlamov had 21 saves and kept Colorado in the game early as the Avs picked up a 7-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.
Among the goaltender’s saves were a couple of breakaways and point-blank shots that could have changed the momentum while the Avs were up 1-0.
“That is my job, to stop the pucks and sometimes make the huge saves and help the guys win every night,” Varlamov said.
While Colorado’s seven goals matched a season high, the first half of the game was full of chippy play and back-and-forth chances by both teams. The only difference for the first 30 minutes was Jay McClement’s goal at 3:05 of the opening period.
Varlamov kept Colorado up 1-0 going into the first intermission after he robbed Devin Setoguchi with his left glove during a Minnesota power play with 1:28 left in the period.
He later stopped a Matt Kassian breakaway early in the second period to keep the Avalanche up by one.
“Varly was huge tonight. We had that one-goal lead in the second and he made a stop on the breakaway and a couple other huge stops,” said Gabriel Landeskog of his goalie. “You have to give that one to him. I think he deserved the first star tonight.”
The only blemish for Varlamov came when Setoguchi scored on a penalty shot, 4:34 into the third period.
“Devin Setoguchi, he is a great player. It is hard to read his shot because he is a righty,” Varlamov said of the only puck that got passed him. “That was a good shot.”
Setoguchi’s goal ended a career high shutout streak of 129 minutes and 23 seconds that Varlamov had going since March 1 against Columbus. It was also the first penalty shot goal that he had given up in his career.
Varlamov improved to 5-1-0 in his last six starts with a 0.84 goals-against average, .970 save percentage and two shutouts (358 minutes, 169 shots, 5 goals). He also appeared in his 100th career game on Tuesday and sports a 50-32-14 overall record (20-19-2 this season).
Colorado keeps pace in the Western Conference playoff race with the win. They are currently tied with Los Angeles and San Jose (74 points each) for the final postseason spot in the West (technically, San Jose is in eighth as they have played fewer games).
The Avs will continue their postseason push on Thursday when they travel to Nashville. Colorado will return home for a matinee on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.
McGinn Fitting In
Jamie McGinn is starting to fit in well in an Avalanche uniform.
McGinn picked up his third goal as a member of the Avalanche, and third against the Minnesota Wild. He had two goals on Sunday versus the Wild in St. Paul, Minn.
“Every game, I am getting more comfortable out there,” McGinn said. “I was disappointed in the first two games, the way I played and the outcome of the games – losing the first two. I think these were two good bounce back-games for me.”
His tally came on the power play at 10:53 of the second period, giving Colorado a 2-0 edge in the contest. It was the first of four goals the Avs scored in the middle stanza.
McGinn also had an assist – on David Jones’ goal in the third – and picked up a fight in the first period against Kyle Brodziak to complete the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”  
It was his fourth game with Colorado since being acquired from San Jose on Feb. 27. It was also the second straight-game in which McGinn’s goal was the game winner.
Not Getting Down-ie
Steve Downie has come back with a vengeance.
Just days after suffering a shoulder injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, Downie picked up three assists on Tuesday in his first game back in the lineup.
Downie’s three assists is a career high. His three point game ties a career high, done twice before this season (Dec. 31 vs. Carolina and Feb. 25 at Detroit).
He now has 10 points (two goals and eight assists) and is a plus-10 in his seven games since being acquired from Tampa Bay on Feb. 21.
Four On The Board
Colorado tied a season high for goals in a period with four tallies in the second period.
The Avs had scored four times in a period twice before, Oct. 13 versus Ottawa and Nov. 26 versus Edmonton, but both of those games had Colorado scoring in the third period.
Colorado’s four second-period goals came in a span of 5:41. It marked the first time the club had scored four goals that quickly since March 8, 2004 at Vancouver (1:39).
The Avalanche also scored three tallies in a span of 1:56 during the middle frame. Those three goals were the fastest since Oct. 21, 2006 at Montreal (1:15).
More Notes
The Avs matched a season high with seven goals tonight, equaling their 7-1 win at Ottawa on Oct. 13…The last time Colorado scored seven goals on home ice was Dec. 13, 2010 vs. Chicago (7-5 win).
The seven goals equaled the most the Avalanche has ever scored against the Wild (Nov. 27, 2010, 7-4 win).
The Avalanche and Wild split the season series at three games apiece.
With two points tonight, Gabriel Landeskog has moved into a tie with New Jersey’s Adam Henrique for the rookie scoring lead with 43 points.
Jan Hejda scored his fifth goal of the season, tying his career high set a year ago with Columbus…That also ties Kyle Quincey, who was recently traded, for the most goals by an Avalanche defenseman in 2011-12.
Jay McClement scored his 10th goal of the season tonight, reaching the 10-goal mark for the third time in his career…He had 11 goals with the St. Louis Blues in 2009-10 and 12 with the Blues in 2008-09.
Cody McLeod tied his career high with two points (1g/1a)…It was his eighth career two-point game but first since April 7, 2010 at Edmonton.
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