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Postgame Wrap-Up: Battle of Division Rivals

Avalanche falls in overtime to Blues in heated affair

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

Division Rival Night lived up to its name.

The Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues traded goals and hits all night, and the matchup between the Central Division clubs ultimately needed to be decided in extra time. Despite erasing a two-goal deficit from the first period, the Avs fell 3-2 to the Blues on Friday after Colton Parayko tallied 1:34 into overtime.

"Just two good teams battling hard. That was the mentality," said Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen. "Both teams played well. Goalies played well as well. It was a tough loss for us."

The Blues held a 37-29 edge in shots on goal, with 18 coming in a scoreless second period for the club, and the Avalanche had the advantage in hits (20-15) and blocked shots (23-17). Both teams found the back of the net on the power play, with Colorado finishing with four opportunities and St. Louis with three chances with the extra man on the ice.

"I really liked how our team responded in the third," said head coach Jared Bednar. "We find ourselves in a two-goal deficit there, and we were able come and dig our way out of that and get it to overtime. It's a big point, it's an important point, would have liked to have two, but sometimes that is the way it goes. Our guys played hard."

Friday's contest was the first of four meetings between the division rivals this season, and the first one since the Avalanche's win in last year's winner-take-all, regular-season finale that saw the team earn the Western Conference's final playoff spot over the Blues.

There was frequent rough stuff after the play in the first matchup of 2018-19 and a good dose of physicality that energized the Pepsi Center crowd.

"I think we matched pretty well. We were playing physical as well," Rantanen said. "A lot of hard hits, a lot of battling. That's good hockey. For sure for the fans too, that is fun to watch."

Rantanen scored the tying goal for the Avalanche at 2:13 of the third period to give the team momentum and extend his personal point streak to seven games (four goals and 10 assists). Colorado outshot St. Louis 12-5 in the last regulation frame but couldn't get another marker to take the lead.

The overtime loss ends the Avs' season-long winning streak at six games, but the point earned adds to an already successful November for the club as it now has points in each of its last 10 games (8-0-2). The squad wraps up the month with an overall record of 8-3-3 and tied with the Nashville Predators for first in the division and conference.

PENALTY SHOT, DENIED: Semyon Varlamov denied Oscar Sundqvist's penalty-shot attempt at 12:37 of the second period and has now stopped six of seven one-on-one chances in his career.

"You have to stay focused for all 60 minutes," Varlamov said. "Those kind of games when the game is tight, every save matters."

It was the first penalty shot that Varlamov and the Avalanche have faced since Dec. 20, 2016 when Eric Staal had an attempt for Minnesota Wild. The netminder made that save too.

Varlamov has now stopped each of the last three penalty shots he's faced and ranks third among active goalies in save percentage during such a breakaway (minimum of five penalty shots faced).

For the game, Varlamov stopped 34 shots and is now 5-0-1 in his last six contests.

O FROM THE D: Defenseman Nikita Zadorov scored his third goal of the season and Colorado's first of the game versus St. Louis.

Zadorov found the back of the net on his second shot attempt during an early second period sequence. After his first wrister was blocked, the puck caromed right back to him at the left point, allowing the D-man to fire a slap shot that found the far side of the net.

Colorado's defensive corps has now registered 13 goals this season and seven in the past six games.

MILESTONE NIGHT: Nathan MacKinnon played in his 400th NHL game, while J.T. Compher suited up in his 100th career contest.

MacKinnon has recorded 344 points (132 goals and 212 assists) since becoming the youngest player in franchise history (18 years, 31 days) to skate in a contest on Oct. 2, 2013 versus the Anaheim Ducks.

Compher has 22 goals and 14 assists over the past three seasons. He made his debut in the league on March 2, 2017 at the Ottawa Senators.

"We have a lot of good guys, and it makes it fun to come to the rink every day," Compher said of hitting the century mark in games played. "For me, just try and continue to be consistent. I've worked on that the last year or so."

ALT WITH THE AVS: Mark Alt made his season debut against the Blues after being recalled from the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles on Thursday.

The defenseman began the game on a defensive pairing with Patrik Nemeth and had one shot and one blocked shot in 9:43 of ice time. Alt, who played seven contests with the Avalanche last season, has four assists in 19 AHL outings this season.

The Avs entered the game with two banged up blueliners on its roster. Tyson Barrie missed his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury while Mark Barberio was out for the first time with an upper-body injury.

MORE NOTES: Mikko Rantanen's 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in November are tied for third in the NHL for scoring in the month, while Nathan MacKinnon (nine goals, 14 assists) finished the month tied with Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov for first with 23 points.

The Avalanche finished 1-for-4 on the power play and is 27-for-86 (31.4 percent) with the man advantage this season, the NHL's best power play.

Colorado is now 1-1-1 in its blue third jerseys for the season.

Ian Cole registered six blocked shots, the fifth time this season he's recorded six or more blocked shots. He leads the league with 77 on the campaign.

Samuel Girard logged a career-high 26:36 of ice time, while Nikita Zadorov's 23:22 was a season best for him.

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