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Avalanche tie game late, top Rangers in shootout

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Defenseman Tyson Barrie has turned into a clutch performer this season, and he came through again Thursday in the Colorado Avalanche's 3-2 shootout win against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center.

Barrie scored with 51.4 seconds remaining in the third period to tie the game, then scored the lone goal in the tiebreaker with a shot over Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist's right pad in the first round.

Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov, who made 29 saves through the five-minute overtime, matched coach Patrick Roy's franchise record for home wins in a season with his 24th. Roy set the record in 2000-01, when Colorado won the Stanley Cup.

"It's amazing to be part of the history," said Varlamov, who stopped all three Rangers attempts in the shootout, "but right now we have six games left and we have to keep playing well and be ready for the playoffs."

Colorado (49-21-6) stretched its winning streak to five games. The Avalanche are in second place in the Central Division, three points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks, who defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in a shootout. The Avalanche have a game in hand.

New York (43-30-5) completed a four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record. The Rangers are second in the Metropolitan Division, four points in front of the third-place Philadelphia Flyers, who lost 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Rangers have four games remaining; the Flyers have six.

"It's a big point, but it's still extremely disappointing to lose, especially in this way," said Lundqvist, who finished with 35 saves. "We worked really hard to try to get the two points tonight. We were playing a really good team, but I thought we did a lot of good things. We were close. It's just a lucky bounce. We tried to clear the puck and it ended up on their stick and I never picked it up until it was in the net. But I like the way we battled. There were a lot of good things."

The Rangers were nursing a 2-1 lead when Roy pulled Varlamov for an extra skater with 2:10 to play in regulation. Barrie connected for the tying goal with a shot from the slot that skimmed past Lundqvist's left leg after the Rangers failed to clear the puck shortly after an icing.

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson kept the puck in the Rangers end, Paul Stastny took a shot that was blocked and Barrie gained possession.

"It was kind of behind me," he said. "I was lucky to get a stick on it and I was lucky it followed me. I didn't try to shoot it at first, I just tried to corral it and I thought I lost it and it was still right there. I was lucky to shoot it and it went along the ice. I don't think you beat Lundqvist too often like that."

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said his team paid the price for being unable to get the puck out of its zone.

"We were in position to win this game. Faceoff in our end, win the draw. We had two opportunities to get it out and we didn't, so they tied it up and we lost the game in a shootout," he said. "Give them credit. They had a real strong push in the third."

The Avalanche outshot the Rangers 16-3 in the third period and 37-31 for the game.

Barrie, who has three overtime goals this season, had never taken a shootout attempt in the NHL before Roy called his name to go first.

"It might be my first and my last,' Barrie said. "Patty told me, 'Hey, if you go backhand shelf, I'll be happy,' so it was the right call. You don't usually care what the coach says in a shootout, but any time Patty has some advice for you, you listen. It was nice that it worked."

Varlamov forced the Rangers' first shooter, Mats Zuccarello, to shoot wide. After the Avalanche's Ryan O'Reilly missed the net with a backhand, Varlamov made a pad save against Martin St. Louis. Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog hit the post in the third round and Varlamov secured the win by stopping Brad Richards.

"We were talking about it after the last game, that the culture is changing," Roy said. "We believe in ourselves. We have a group that never gives up."

Derek Stepan gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead at 15:30 of the second period with his 16th goal and first in six games. Stepan picked up a loose puck in his own zone and skated down the left wing into the Avalanche end on a 2-on-1 rush. He kept the puck as he moved toward the net and shot it under Varlamov's left arm.

The Avalanche tied the game 1-1 on a goal by defenseman Andre Benoit at 5:57 of the second after Varlamov made a stop against St. Louis. The rebound caromed to O'Reilly, who made a long pass to John Mitchell. Benoit joined Mitchell on a 2-on-1 rush, and Mitchell passed across to Benoit, who went from his forehand to his backhand and chipped the puck over Lundqvist's glove.

Defenseman John Moore, in his first game after missing six games to recover from a concussion, scored on the first shot of the game at 2:10 of the first period for a 1-0 Rangers lead. Moore ripped a shot from the left point that found its way behind screened Varlamov for his fourth goal.

Moore's return took some of the sting out of losing defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who missed his first game of the season after sustaining a shoulder injury Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Rangers killed off all four of the Avalanche's power plays and have thwarted 42 of 45 penalties in the past 16 games.

The Avalanche lost left wing Cody McLeod, who left with an injury to his left ankle at 13:43 of the second period. McLeod fell awkwardly into the boards and needed assistance getting off the ice.

"He's a tough guy and he wants to play in the next game," Roy said. "For now he's day-to-day and we'll see tomorrow."

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