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Varlamov, Avs Defense Shine Against Predators

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche gave goaltender Semyon Varlamov plenty of help in the team's redemption victory against the Nashville Predators.

Varlamov only faced 23 shots—tying a team season low for shots against—and he stopped every single one in the Avs' 3-0 win over the Predators on Friday night at Pepsi Center.

"Defensively, I thought we were sharp. It's nice to give Varly a performance like this," said Colorado head coach Patrick Roy. "Not saying it was an easy shutout, but it's nice for him to have an easier game where we don’t give that many shots and not many scoring chances. That was a strong performance by our team."

It was Varlamov's fourth shutout of the season, tying a career high for the most in a season and tying him for fifth in the NHL in the category this year. He now has 13 shutouts as a member of the Avalanche, tying David Aebischer for second place on the franchise's all-time list.

Varlamov was rarely tested, as the Avs forced Nashville to shoot from outside while clearing lanes in front of their keeper.

"I saw most of the shots today," Varlamov said. "The boys did a good job for me today, boxing out the players. It was very important for me to see the shots, especially from the blue lines."

He also appreciated the goal support versus the Central Division-leading Predators.

"It’s really important for me when the guys score the first goal," Varlamov said. "You get that confidence… everything is much easier.”

But when he had to be at his best, he was. And the Nashville players took notice.

"I think we had plenty of opportunities to put a few past him, but Varlamov played really well," said Predators center Matt Cullen. "He did a really good job of controlling rebounds and not giving us a whole lot to generate second and third opportunities."

Friday's game was a redemption opportunity for last season's Vezina Trophy finalist after his performance three nights earlier in Nashville.

Varlamov made 35 saves in the 4-3 overtime loss on Tuesday, but admitted he didn't have his best contest. A pregame meeting with team goaltending coach Francois Allaire helped get him back on track.

"I felt pretty good today. We had two days rest between the games, and I think that helped a lot," he said. "I wasn’t happy about my game three nights ago, a couple bad goals. Then tonight, I had a meeting with my goalie coach, and we were talking about my game a bit and then he reminds me of a couple good things. I think that was a good thing right before the game.”

Varlamov has now played in 14 of the last 15 games for the Avalanche, and he closes the month of January with a 7-3-2 record.

MR. 1,200

Jarome Iginla became the 47th player in NHL history to reach the 1,200-point mark. He is now tied with Dino Ciccarelli for 46th on the NHL scoring list, as he's recorded 575 goals and 624 assists in 1,359 games.

"I have been very fortunate and it's been fun, but I do find it neat," said Iginla after the game. "I would be lying if I said I didn't look at [the rankings], or when I hear [where I am] that I think it's pretty cool. My kids think it's neat too."

Iginla scored his team-leading 16th of the season off a pass by Matt Duchene from below the goal line. Duchene made a nice move to get around a defender in the corner and then threw the puck to the slot for a driving Iginla, who whacked it past goalie Marek Mazanec at 5:54 of the third period to give Colorado a 2-0 lead.

It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that Iginla would record a point on Friday night. He now has 60 career points (35 goals, 25 assists) in 55 games against Nashville, the second most all time against the Predators. Only Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk has more (71 points).

His score also extended his goal streak to a season-high three games and helped him finish the month of January with a team-high seven tallies.

McLEOD HITS CENTURY MARK

Cody McLeod continues to cement himself as one of the toughest guys in Avalanche history.

McLeod reached the 100-penalty minute plateau Friday night, marking the seventh time he has reached the century mark in his NHL career. He was called for a hooking penalty with 1:19 remaining in the second period and now has 1,079 PIMs in his career.

The Binscarth, Manitoba native tied the franchise record for the most career 100 penalty minute seasons (7), but he is the first to do it in an Avs uniform. Steven Finn, Dale Hunter and Randy Moller all had seven 100-PIM seasons with the Quebec Nordiques.

He has reached the milestone in every season other than the shortened 2013-13 campaign, where he still recorded 83 penalty minutes while playing in all 48 games.

McLeod also added a game-high seven hits in the contest.

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