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Postgame Wrap-Up: Agozzino Tallies First Career Goal

Gabriel Landeskog assists for his 400th NHL point in Avalanche win against Golden Knights

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Andrew Agozzino had to be patient for his first goal. It was worth the wait.

One day after being called up from the American Hockey League for the first time in nearly three seasons, Agozzino recorded his first NHL marker and helped spur the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday at Pepsi Center.

The Kleinburg, Ontario, native also registered his first multi-point effort, as he added an assist in the third period on Matt Calvert's tally to secure Colorado's lead versus the defending Western Conference champions.

"I came in with the mindset of trying to help this team, whatever aspect it was," Agozzino said. "I'm glad I did it tonight and helped this team get the win. It is a big two points for us in the playoff race. It's a special night."

Agozzino's marker gave the Avalanche a two-goal advantage at 5:47 of the second period and came after he found space in the low slot. Gabriel Landeskog fed him a perfect pass from the right corner, and he didn't miss on his ensuing shot.

Video: VGK@COL: Agozzino buries one-timer for first NHL goal

The forward was making his season debut for the Avs and playing his first NHL game since Colorado's season finale versus the Anaheim Ducks on April 9, 2016. Monday's outing marked Agozzino's 11th career contest in the National League; he now has five points with one goal and four assists.

"I've been waiting a long time for that moment, and it was just special," Agozzino said of his first goal. "It's tough to put into words. A lot of emotion when I saw it go in. Just pure excitement."

The marker was a longtime coming for the 28-year-old, who went undrafted in the NHL and first joined the Avalanche on an American Hockey League contract with the Lake Erie Monsters in 2012. He earned an NHL entry-level deal the following season and has played a total of 459 career AHL games, all but 71 with the Avs organization.

Agozzino has registered 342 points (142 goals and 200 assists) in his seven seasons in the minors and has posted a team-high 50 points (22 goals and 28 assists) this year with the Colorado Eagles.

"I definitely know coming in that I'm third or fourth, one of the older forwards," he said. "At that point, I'm just here to help this team, whether it is scoring a goal or playing on the penalty kill, it doesn't really matter to me."

Video: Agozzino on scoring his first career NHL goal

The forward only played nine shifts and 6:27 versus the Golden Knights on Monday, but he made them count. In addition to his two points, he finished with a plus-2 rating, one hit, one takeaway, one blocked shot and won 2-of-3 faceoffs, while also skating 1:06 on the penalty kill.

"Agozzino, first game for us this year, did a really nice job for us," said head coach Jared Bednar afterward. "Smart, intelligent, 200-foot player. Made some plays, had some poise with the puck."

Agozzino became the fifth Avalanche player this season to score his first NHL goal, joining Sheldon Dries (Nov. 1 at Calgary), Vladislav Kamenev (Nov. 1 at Calgary), Ryan Graves (Jan. 4 vs. New York Rangers) and Dominic Toninato (Feb. 14 at Winnipeg). The last time Colorado had at least five skaters tally their first goal in a campagin was in 2010-11 when seven accomplished the feat.

The Avalanche's second period tally was also a two-for-one milestone, as it also marked the 400th point of Landeskog's career (173 goals, 227 assists).

Landeskog joined the Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov (433) as the only members of the 2011 NHL Draft to reach the 400-point plateau, and he became just the fourth Colorado draft pick (since 1995-96) to record 400 points with the franchise, joining Alex Tanguay (488), Paul Stastny (458) and Matt Duchene (428).

The Avs captain ranks 12th overall in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history in scoring, just 14 points behind Valeri Kamensky for the 11th spot (414). Landeskog joined Kamensky in another accolade last Thursday when he scored his 30th goal of the season, becoming the only left wings in Avs history to accomplish the feat.

As for the milestone puck, it's safe to say that Landeskog will let Agozzino keep it. Though Agozzino's father might have another idea.

"I'm sure my dad is going to call me for it," he said. "It will probably go somewhere in my house in a nice frame. I'm sure he'll be fighting me for it."

VARLAMOV SHUTOUT: Goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped all 40 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season and 25th of his career. He is the fifth Russian netminder to reach the quarter-century mark in clean sheets.

Varlamov was especially strong in the third period, stopping all 15 Vegas shots while holding onto the lead.

"It was a tough period mentally… I tried to really stay focused and tried not to give up a goal in the first 10 minutes," Varlamov said of the final frame.

Video: Semyon Varlamov after his 40-save shutout win

It was Varlamov's fifth career 40-plus save shutout and improved his record to 2-2-3 in his last seven games. He has posted a .927 save percentage in that time.

"He looks confident," Bednar said of his goalie. "For me, it looks like he has a little bit of his mobility back in his game, side to side, the quickness of the reading of the play before it happens. He's getting side to side, he's getting squared to the shooter before he even has the puck. I feel like there is a whole new intensity and sort of confidence to his game, quiet confidence."

Video: VGK@COL: Varlamov denies 40 shots to earn shutout 

LINE SHAKEUP: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar jumbled up his forward combinations for the game versus Vegas, with all four lines seeing sweeping changes. That included a shake up in the top group as Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen each played on different even-strength units for the first time in more than a year.

Landeskog skated with Tyson Jost and Matt Calvert, Rantanen was with Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto, and MacKinnon centered a group with Sven Andrighetto and Alexander Kerfoot. Andrew Agozzino, J.T. Compher and A.J. Greer made up the other forward line.

"I liked all of our lines," Bednar said afterward. "We had some short stretches that I didn't like a couple lines, but for the most part I was able to roll them over and play them the whole night."

The team's defensive alignment remained the same as it was from Saturday's contest against the St. Louis Blues. 

Video: Jared Bednar after the 3-0 win over Vegas

WILSON CLOSE TO HEALTHY: Colin Wilson missed his fourth straight game with an upper-body injury, but his time on the Avs' injured-reserve list could be coming to an end.

Wilson was a full participant in Monday's morning skate, and Bednar said the forward could possibly be available for Wednesday's contest against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native last played on Feb. 10 at the Boston Bruins. Wilson has 10 goals and eight assists this season.

MORE POSTGAME NOTES: The Avalanche is now 1-1-0 against the Golden Knights this season, with one game remaining in the season series (March 27 at Pepsi Center.) Colorado is 2-0-0 all-time at home against Vegas.

The Avs were 4-for-4 on the penalty kill and haven't allowed a power-play goal in three straight contests (11-for-11).

Varlamov started his seventh consecutive game, a season high.

Matt Nieto finished with an assist and has three points (three assists) over his last three outings. He leads the Avalanche with five assists in the month of February.

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