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Varlamov Continues Solid Play In Avalanche Win In Vegas

Colorado finishes the preseason with a 4-2-0 record

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Semyon Varlamov's stellar play continued Thursday night in the Colorado Avalanche's preseason finale against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Varlamov made 34 saves on 36 shots and was at his best late when he made 12 stops in the third period. He finishes the exhibition schedule with a 3-0-0 record while denying 92 of 97 shots in four games.

The Avalanche netminder was playing in his first contests since having season-ending hip surgery to fix his injured groin in January.

"I think he's looking good and he's working hard, like he always is," said Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog of Varlamov. "He has kind of always been the heartbeat of this hockey team, and we know when he's playing well, we're feeding off of him. It's good to have him back between the pipes."

Colorado ends its six-game preseason slate with a 4-2-0 record and wins in four of its last five outings. The Avs outscored their opponents 20-12 in those contests.

The Avalanche's top two lines once again shined on Thursday, with Nail Yakupov, Sven Andrighetto and Mikko Rantanen playing starring roles just steps away from the famous Las Vegas Strip.

"We picked up where we left off last season," said Andrighetto, who also had an assist while on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Rantanen. "It is definitely a good sign, and it is only going to get better with more games."

Tyson Jost also scored and Chris Bigras had two assists as well for Colorado.

The two teams played a tight first period, but it was the Avalanche that found the back of the net on two near-perfect shots.

Yakupov began the scoring with 3:36 left in the stanza, taking advantage of some quick passes from Alexander Kerfoot and Bigras and ripping a wrist shot from the left circle.

The Avs went into the intermission up 2-0 after Erik Johnson found Sven Andrighetto on a long stretch pass in the final minute of the stanza. Andrighetto then beat Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with a far-side shot that hit iron before going in.

Video: COL@VGK: Andrighetto, Johnson connect for nifty goal

Colin Miller scored at 6:20 of the second period for Vegas, but the Colorado retook a two-goal lead early in the third.

Mikko Rantanen tallied on the Avalanche's first shot of the final period at 6:33. Nathan MacKinnon found Rantanen with space at the right circle and Rantanen fired the puck into a gaping net before Fleury could get over to make the stop.

By the midway point of the third stanza, Vegas had built some strong momentum following a 15-shot middle frame and was controlling the play in the last stanza. Varlamov was up to the challenge, keeping the Avs ahead by two with timely save after timely save.

Video: COL@VGK: Varlamov shuts the door on odd-man rush

Shea Theodore finally beat Varlamov with an outside shot at 11:12, but the Colorado netminder wouldn't be fooled again.

Jost scored with 3:07 left in regulation by being at the right place at the right time. J.T. Compher's shot rebounded off Fleury and the puck then caromed off Jost's skate near the crease before settling on the other side of the goal line.

Fleury finished with 18 saves.

"We know its preseason, but we still found ways to win hockey games," Landeskog said afterward. "We're not going to put too much emphasis on that, but I think we're doing some good things. Obviously, we got guys that have found ways to score goals."

Neither club had success on the power play, as Vegas went scoreless on its seven attempts and Colorado was unable to convert on any of its four man advantages.

Next up for the Avalanche is the real thing, as the games begin to count in the standings and two points are up for grabs every night. Colorado opens the regular season next Thursday at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

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