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Vintage Varlamov Against Sharks

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

It was one of those games where Varly was just being Varly.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 49 saves in net, including tying a career-best 22 in the first period, to help the Avs get a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday at Pepsi Center.

It was the second most saves that Varlamov has recorded in his career and was just one short of tying his personal best of 50 that he made on Feb. 16, 2013 at Edmonton. He was also two saves shy of tying the Avalanche record of 51, set by Patrick Roy on Dec. 10, 1997 at Toronto.

Since missing eight days and three games because of a minor groin injury, Varlamov has looked sharp in his return to the Avalanche net. He has started the last three games and despite the 1-0-2 record, the Russian netminder has posted a solid 2.22 goals-against average and .935 save percentage.

“Well you know what, I felt pretty good the last three games," Varlamov said. "But when I got injured, I didn’t skate very much and now [my] conditioning is back and I feel so much better. Right now, I think the team played good for me. I mean, we lost today but at least we got one point, which is good.”

Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said Varlamov helped keep the Avs in the game when the team was struggling to get things going in the Sharks zone.

“I mean [49] saves, that’s incredible," Landeskog said. "Sure it shows how good he is and sure it shows how well he played tonight, but it also showed how we left him hanging and we didn’t play well enough in front of him. That’s unacceptable and that’s something that we have to talk about and something that we have to correct."

After giving up the first goal, Varlamov was a steady rock in the blue paint as he stopped the next 36 shots until Logan Couture tied the game off a rebound at 5:03 of the third period.

Avs head coach Patrick Roy said Varlamov came up big after San Jose took that early lead.

"Pretty easy to say. He was outstanding," Roy said. "He made some incredible saves. Especially in the moment in the first when we were struggling a lot. When they scored the first goal and took a 1-0 lead. We just lost our focus. I was looking at shots on net and it was 6-6 or 7-6 and the next time I turned around, it was almost 18 to six or seven. That part of the game was not very pretty for us."

While Colorado only has one regulation win to show for its last four games, the team is picking up crucial points that could be the difference in the final standings.

"You never know," Roy said. "At the end of the year we could be very happy about that point."

TANGUAY STREAKING

Alex Tanguay's short-handed goal at 13:24 of the second period was a turning point in the game for the Avalanche.

At the time, Colorado was down 1-0 on the scoreboard and 32-12 in the shot department but the game turned when Tanguay stole a loose puck at the blue line, was patient around San Jose goalie Antti Niemi and scored on a wrist shot from the below the circle.

It was Tanguay's fourth goal of the season and the seventh short-handed tally of his career. The score also extended his point streak to six games (four goals, two assists).

The goal came after a long pass in the Avalanche zone from Erik Johnson to the San Jose blue line. The puck deflected off Brent Burns, and Tanguay was right there to wrangle the puck and make his way into the Sharks end. After skating around Logan Couture, the Avs left wing came in close to the crease before moving to the left circle where he caught Niemi out of position and easily shot the puck into the net.

The Avalanche has now scored twice while shorthanded this season, tying Anaheim, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles for the league lead.

McGINN FAMILY REUNION

For the first time in the McGinn family, two brothers faced off against one another on opposing teams and it just so happened to be in an NHL game.

Avs forward Jamie McGinn played against younger brother Tye of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center with their parents and grandparents in the crowd watching.

"Everyone is looking forward to it," Jamie said after morning skate. "We had a nice family dinner last night, and today is all business."

Tye's team ended up pulling out the extra point in the shootout win, but it was still a special night for the family. Jamie said before the game he hoped he would be able to share some ice time with his brother and got his wish as the two players played a few shifts against one another.

"I hope so. That would be great," Jamie said of possibly being on the ice at the same time as Tye. "I'm sure my mom doesn't want that. Then they won't know who to cheer for. I'm looking forward to it. No matter what happens it would be awesome to see him, if he is on the bench at one moment or if I'm on the bench and he's out there."

STUART FACES OLD TEAM

Brad Stuart faced his former team for the first time on Tuesday night, but the experience was nothing new for the Avalanche defenseman.

Having played a previous stint with San Jose and with Boston, Calgary, Los Angeles and Detroit in his NHL career, Stuart is familiar with facing a former club but said there is still a bit of a weird feeling when playing that first game.

"It's always a little strange playing against guys that you have played with in the previous season, but I've done it before and have a little bit of experience in that department," Stuart said. "Once the game starts, it is just another game."

Stuart had a solid game defensively as he delivered three hits and blocked four shots in 18:43 of ice time.

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