Skip to main content

Avalanche blank Blues in Varlamov's return

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Five players scored goals for the Colorado Avalanche, who played a strong defensive game in front of goalie Semyon Varlamov to defeat the St. Louis Blues 5-0 at Pepsi Center on Tuesday for their season-best third consecutive win.

Varlamov, in his first game since Dec. 5, made 12 of his 26 saves in the third period for his second shutout of the season, 11th with the Avalanche and 15th of his NHL career. He missed the previous six games because of a groin injury, his third such injury this season.

"It does feel good," said Varlamov, whose best save came against former Avalanche teammate Paul Stastny on a 2-on-1 rush midway through the third period. "We played a real solid game the whole 60 minutes. It is much easier to play when the guys score lots of goals. I feel well. The doctors did a great job for me, also conditioning. I felt good. I'm healthy and ready to go."

The win was Varlamov's first since Nov. 15 against the New Jersey Devils.

The Avalanche (13-13-8) are 4-0-2 in their past six games, reached .500 for the first time this season, and moved into sixth place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Dallas Stars.

"It's big," said defenseman Erik Johnson, who opened the scoring with a goal at 15:02 of the first period. "We've flirted with those two-game winning streaks and never got past that to get to three. Getting back to .500 is good for the squad. We knew we weren't playing as well as we could earlier, but this is some of the best hockey we've played. We have to make sure we continue it and know the things we're doing right that's making us successful."

Varlamov, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, continued to give the Avalanche the strong goaltending they received from rookie Calvin Pickard in his absence.

"Our goaltending has been really, really good," said right wing Jarome Iginla, who had a goal and an assist. "[Pickard] came in and did a phenomenal job, and with [Varlamov] back we're very excited to get him back feeling good. He's a big part of the team, and for him to go out and play the way he did tonight ... it was a good game for us, we played well, but he made some big stops."

St. Louis (21-10-3) was outscored 14-6 in going 0-2-1 on a three-game road trip.

"It's pretty simple," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's really what's been going on the last little while. Our goals against have been going through the roof. That's a sign of not checking, not being responsible, not competing on the puck. Way too many goals against, way too many easy scoring chances.

"It falls on everybody; it's all of us. Whether you score four goals or five goals or three goals or one goal, the goal that's been here is not to give up much. And if you don't give up much, you get lots usually. We're just trading chances, and you get games like that, where it's in your net before you blink. Can't win playing like this. We'll see if this is a wake-up call for us."

The Avalanche outshot the Blues 17-7 in the second period. Alex Tanguay and Iginla scored at even strength and Ryan O'Reilly had a power-play goal to give Colorado a 5-0 lead heading into the third.

Blues goalie Jake Allen, who faced 31 shots, was replaced by Martin Brodeur to begin the third period. The Avalanche outshot the Blues 41-26 for the game.

"We talked this morning about the schedule, how tough it is right now and it's a good challenge for our team," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Tonight we responded well to it. It was important to win a big game at home, that's what I was looking at. Beating these guys 5-0, it was an off night for them, but we played really well."

Tanguay was credited with his team-leading 12th goal at 5:49 of the second period. Iginla took a shot from the right circle that hit Tanguay in front and bounced off Allen into the net.

O'Reilly, who rang a shot off the post at 14:30, scored with the Avalanche working with the man advantage at 16:47. Gabriel Landeskog passed to O'Reilly at the base of the right circle as Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk sprawled on the ice in front of the net. O'Reilly shot the puck under Allen's left arm.

Iginla made it 5-0 at 17:27. He took a drop pass from John Mitchell and beat Allen to the stick side.

Johnson and Zach Redmond scored late first-period goals to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead.

Matt Duchene passed to Johnson, who moved to his left above the left circle and beat screened Allen inside the far post at 15:02 for his ninth goal, one short of his career-high, set with the Blues in 2009-10.

Johnson had two goals in the Blues' 3-2 overtime win Dec. 13. He has a goal in three consecutive games and five goals in the past five.

"It felt good to play a good game from start to finish, really solid," Johnson said. "It felt good to contribute. It was a really good effort, top to bottom, every guy. We had a little bit of a lull in the third, but we played really good."

Redmond scored a power-play goal at 18:45. He skated down the left side, took a pass through the slot from O'Reilly, and shot the puck inside the near post.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.