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Avs' Winning Streak In Boston Continues

Colorado is unbeaten in its last 12 contests at TD Garden

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

BOSTON--On this Canadian Thanksgiving, the Boston Bruins faithful must be thankful that the Colorado Avalanche only visits once a year.

The Avalanche has now won 10 straight games as opponents at TD Garden and is unbeaten in its last 12 contests after a 4-0 victory on Monday afternoon.

"I read a text from a buddy before the game that said that we're 10-0-1 or something against these guys the last handful of years, and I almost texted him back and said, 'you jinxed us,'" said Avs alternate captain Erik Johnson. "I don't know if I believe in that, so I didn't. It feels good to come in here. For whatever reason, we're successful."

Colorado's record in Boston in its past 12 visits includes 11 wins and one tie. The last time the Avs lost in the city was March 30, 1998, when Ray Bourque was still a member of the Bruins. He won the Stanley Cup three years later with the Avalanche.

The Avs' victory in Monday's matinee--the early weekday start time was actually part of the American Columbus Day celebration in the city--was their best effort through the first three games of the season. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves and fellow Russian countryman Nail Yakupov tallied his first two markers in a Colorado uniform to give the team a 2-1-0 record heading back to Denver for Wednesday's home opener.

"We played really good as a team today," Varlamov said. "I think we were focused all game. Sometimes we play half the game. Today, we played a real, solid 60 minutes. It was fun to watch the guys respond after that loss to New Jersey."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar on the win in Boston

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was pleased with what he saw from his players, noting that the team "didn't have any passengers" and had four lines that were "going" while also being hard on pucks both offensively and defensively.

The team's improvement from the season-opening win at the New York Rangers to the club's loss on Saturday at the New Jersey Devils and then the solid effort in Boston was telling for the bench boss.

"Game 1, we relied on our goalie too much. Game 2, our goalie was great too, but we didn't get enough offensive production. Our best game of our road trip was certainly our third," Bednar said. "To be 2-1, and then coming into Boston against a good team and be able to get a good, solid win, it is a little bit of a sign of maturity and growth from our team. Even from Game 1 to Game 2, I liked the things guys are saying in the room right now."

This is Johnson's first time during his Avalanche tenure that he is wearing the alternate captain 'A' full-time, and he said the club can't be satisfied as it gets ready for its next two games in its friendly confines.

"It feels good to come home 2-1, with a winning record for our crowd at Pepsi Center. We haven't come home from a road trip with a winning record for a long time, so it feels good to have that," said Johnson, who played a game-high 28:17 on Monday. "You can't rest on anything you accomplished so far. We have to reset and not be satisfied and continue to push forward because we have a lot of work left to do, and it's only three games into the season."

Video: Erik Johnson after the Avs' win in Boston

The Avs players have been communicating effectively with one another on the ice, on the bench and in the locker room, and Bednar said he's pleased that they're talking about the details of the game. Those are the areas that usually determine who wins in the end.

"You can tell that our leadership is strong in there right now," Bednar said. "It's a hungry team."

Colorado's opponent in the home opener will be no other than these same Boston Bruins, as the team close out the season series in the second half of the home-and-home set on Wednesday. Historically, the Avs aren't as dominant against the B's in Colorado as they are in Boston, as they only sport a .500 record with an 8-8-0 mark.

After beginning the new campaign on the road, Johnson and the rest of the team are ready to finally make their debut in front of their fans.

"We're going to have energy from the crowd regardless. I think it is good to come home," Johnson said. "We've worked on things that we need to correct and fix. I think the biggest key is to not get too over-juiced, overhyped up. We're going to be excited to play at home and in front of our great fans at Pepsi Center."

VARLY'S STRONG START

It is just a two-game sample size, but Avalanche netminder Semyon Varlamov has put together two strong performances between the pipes.

After stopping 37 shots in a victory at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, Varlamov denied all 29 pucks that came his way versus the Boston Bruins on Monday.

It was Varlamov's 22nd career shutout and first in almost a year. His last clean slate was Oct. 20 when he stopped 27 shots at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Without my teammates, I couldn't do anything," Varlamov said. "They played really good in front of me today. They blocked shots and scored four goals. It was fun to watch. It was a good game."

Video: Semyon Varlamov shuts out the Boston Bruins

The Avs skaters did their part to help the goalie, as they blocked 14 shots and were quick on rebounds.

"I think we did a tremendous job today clearing the pucks, and then not letting them shoot from inside," Varlamov said. "Most of the shots I was facing were outside shots. It was a great job by the defense today."

Varlamov appears fully healthy after an injury-plagued 2016-17 campaign. He is coming off surgery to fix groin issues that ended his season prematurely last year. He missed the final 40 contests of 2016-17, playing his last game on Jan. 17.

PERFECT PK

The Avalanche entered Monday 5-for-10 on the penalty kill, but it was perfect in that area of special teams against the Bruins. Colorado killed all four of its infractions and allowed only four shots in the eight minutes of power-play time that Boston had.

"We played better on the PK, for sure," Varlamov said. "That was the key today, the penalty killing. Boston had four or five power plays and then they didn't have that many shots on the net. That was probably the key for me."

Playing shorthanded was a focus of Sunday's practice, and the team translated that success effectively into the game.

"Penalty kill was outstanding," Bednar said. "Gave up a chance or two, but mostly doing the right things. Our clears were better."

The Avalanche even tallied while shorthanded, as J.T. Compher buried a hard shot during a 2-on-1 with Carl Soderberg in the first period. It was Compher's fourth career NHL goal and first shorty.

LINE CHANGES

The Avalanche made one slight adjustment to its line combinations from Saturday's contest at New Jersey, as forwards Tyson Jost and Colin Wilson switched spots in the bottom six.

Jost joined the club's third trio with J.T. Compher and Gabriel Landeskog, while Wilson played on the fourth line with Blake Comeau and Carl Soderberg.

Colorado rostered the same skaters as it did in New Jersey. Forward Matt Nieto and defensemen Mark Barberio and Andrei Mironov were the healthy scratches for the second consecutive outing.

Semyon Varlamov started in net after backing up Jonathan Bernier versus the Devils.

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