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Jones, Avalanche beat Blues 1-0 in OT

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER – David Jones has scored plenty of goals in his brief NHL career, perhaps none more significant than the one he delivered Wednesday night.

His goal with 16.4 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Colorado Avalanche a 1-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center and ended a personal slump that had reached 10 games.

It's why he made sure to gain possession of the game-winning puck and drop it into his locker stall.

"I'm going to hold onto that for good luck and hopefully it'll keep things going for me," Jones said. "Hopefully this opens the floodgates a little bit for me. I've had some good games and not scored, so now I've just got to keep going. I didn't really think it was going to happen for me tonight. To get a chance like that, that's the fun of the sport."

Jones took a pass from Matt Hunwick and whipped the puck through a screen and past goalie Jaroslav Halak's glove for his second goal of the season. It was his only shot on goal.

"Hunwick wheeled behind our net and he's got good speed," Jones said. "In overtime it's tough when you're playing four on four and the forwards are backing in. He kind of cut to the side and kind of gave me a gap to shoot and it found its way in.

"Tonight was kind of strange because I get one shot on net and it ends up being the one that goes in. Other games I've had five or six shots and hadn't been able to put one in the back. Sometimes that's the way it goes, but I'm definitely happy because this was an important goal."

Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season, his sixth as a member of the Avalanche, and the 10th of his NHL career.

"The guys helped me a lot today. They blocked a lot of shots," Varlamov said. "Every save is huge. We didn't score five or six goals like the last two games. I'm happy, for sure. It's a huge two points. Every point for us is a big deal."

The Avalanche swept a two-game homestand and have gone 3-1-1 in the past five games to climb back to .500 with a 7-7-1 record.

"That's a real good win for us against a real good hockey team," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "I think our guys worked extremely hard for those two points."

The teams headed into the overtime in a scoreless tie mainly because of Varlamov, who has become accustomed to facing plenty of shots.

"He's been outstanding," Jones said. "It was so nice to be able to get the win for him. He's stood on his head the last few games. The scores haven't really shown how well he's played."

Varlamov made a career-high 50 saves – one short of the Avalanche record set by Patrick Roy in 1997 – in a 6-4 loss at Edmonton on Saturday, then stopped 33 shots Monday in Colorado's 6-5 win against Nashville.

"He was excellent again, especially early on I thought when they had some more chances than we did," Sacco said. "He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win. He's been real solid. Every aspect of his game looks real sharp. That's a good sign for our club."

Jones' ability to regain his scoring touch would be another positive sign. He's scored 20 or more goals in each of the past two seasons.

"When you're a scorer like Jonesy who can chip in offensively, once you get one, hopefully that confidence starts to build up again," Sacco said. "He's a streaky scorer and hopefully they'll start to come in bunches for him. He shot the puck; he didn't pass up on the opportunity. I think they'll start to come for him now."

The Blues hardly looked like a team that played Tuesday night in St. Louis, where they dropped a 2-1 decision to San Jose, and were playing their third game in four nights and their fifth (fourth on the road) in a stretch of eight days.

St. Louis outshot the Avalanche in every period but the overtime and enjoyed a 33-20 advantage in shots for the game.

"I can't really say we feel good," said forward Chris Stewart, who had three shots on goal. "I thought we controlled most of the game. I thought we deserved a little better fate, but that's what happens when you let a team like that hang around."

Halak played for the first time since he suffered a groin injury in a Feb. 1 game against Detroit. He wasn't tested often but made a tough save against Matt Duchene at the 12-minute mark of the third period and he stopped Paul Stastny on a 2-on-1 rush with 1:40 left in overtime.

The defeat was just the third in nine road games for the Blues, who have lost seven consecutive games at the Pepsi Center.

"We had all kinds of chances, didn't finish around the net," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We left the game out there and then made a mistake on the backcheck [in overtime]. That was the end of the game."

Avalanche right wing Milan Hejduk suffered a torso injury early in the second period and didn't return.

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