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O'Reilly And Varlamov Deliver In The Avs' 3-2 Shootout Win

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche
It has been quite the week so far for Ryan O’Reilly.

After having a three-point night (one goal and two assists) on Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils, O’Reilly scored the game-tying goal midway through the third period and the only goal in the shootout to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night at Pepsi Center.
“It feels great,” said O’Reilly, who also had an assist in the game. “We played well and we found a way to win.”
The victory marks the first time this season that Colorado has won back-to-back home games, and is the first time the Avs have won two in a row since winning five straight on the road from Oct. 10-17.
“We were patient and in the third period we stepped up – we were a little bit more aggressive with the puck,” O’Reilly said. “We got pucks to the net and banged a few in.”
With 10:24 remaining in regulation, O’Reilly moved his way over to the right circle and fired a wrist shot on net. Milan Hejduk screened Jaroslav Halak just enough to prevent the St. Louis goaltender from getting a good read on the shot, allowing the puck to squeeze between Halak and the right post.
“We wanted to play well in our own end and build from there, and that is what we did,” O’Reilly said.
In his last two games, O’Reilly has five points (two goals and three assists) and is +5. He now leads the Avalanche in scoring with 19 points (four goals and 15 assists).
O’Reilly was the third shooter and only goal scorer in the shootout by beating Halak with a shoulder fake and a backhand shot top shelf. Jamie Langenbrunner then missed the net to secure the Avs’ fourth shootout win of the season.
The victory is Colorado’s fifth in a row at home against St. Louis and improves its record to 4-3-0 on the homestand.
The Avs close out their longest continuous homestand on Sunday night when they host the Detroit Red Wings at 6 p.m. The Avs played the Wings in their first game of the season on Oct. 8 in Denver and then on Nov. 8 in Detroit. The Red Wings won both contests.
Varly Standing On His Head
Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 35 saves and earned his eighth win of the season.
After giving up Patrik Berglund’s go-ahead goal at 5:39 of the second period, Varlamov didn’t allow another puck to get past him through regulation, overtime and the shootout.
“Like every game, he is a huge reason why we win,” O’Reilly said of his goaltender. “He has been so great for us and we are so lucky to have him in there. We just need to keep putting them in for him and we will give ourselves a good chance to win every game.”
The Russian goaltender played superb in net down the stretch, which included a tough save on a turnaround shot by David Backes late in overtime and a spectacular left pad save to deny T.J. Oshie in the second round of the shootout.
“Nothing special,” Varlamov said of the save he made on Oshie’s shot. “I just tried to stay on my legs and at the last moment when he went backhand, I just went down and was able to make the save.”
Varlamov is now 4-0 in shootouts this year, allowing just one goal on 11 attempts (.909 save percentage).
In his last five starts, he is 3-2-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage (304 min, 151 shots, nine goals). He has allowed two goals or less in each those five games.
Hejduk Is Clutch
St. Louis scored first in the game, but Milan Hejduk tied the game at one at 13:55 of the opening stanza.
O’Reilly fed him the puck from behind the net and Hejduk tipped the rubber top shelf as he was all alone at the top of the Blues’ crease.
The goal was his ninth of the season and ties Matt Duchene for the team lead.
His goal tonight was the 366th of his NHL career, tying Jacques Lemaire for 110th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

Giving St. Louis The Blues
The St. Louis Blues were a perfect 11-0-0 when leading after two periods – but that all changed tonight.
Colorado’s shootout victory is the first time this season that St. Louis has lost after leading through the first two periods of play. They are now 11-0-1 when going into the third with the lead.
“I think we just sat back a little bit and took some pressure off of them,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. “It allowed them to get their transition game going and some ice to work with. They are a skilled team, they make great plays through the neutral zone and I think us backing off there was playing right into their hands.”
Coming into Friday’s game, St. Louis was one of the hottest teams in the NHL, going 8-1-2 in the 11 contests since Ken Hitchcock was hired as the head coach.
More Notes
The Avalanche improved to 4-0 in shootouts this season, best in the NHL…Colorado is 15-1 in its last 16 shootouts dating back to December of 2009 and 30-10 in its last 40.
The Avs are 6-1 in games that go beyond regulation this year (2-1 in overtime, 4-0 in shootouts)
Colorado won its second straight home game, the first time the Avs have posted back-to-back home wins since Jan. 10-18, 2011.
Kevin Shattenkirk’s power-play goal in the first period snapped the Avalanche’s streak of 14 consecutive penalty kills…That was Colorado’s longest streak of the season.
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