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Varlamov, Avalanche keep playoff hopes alive with 4-1 win over Flames

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY - Semyon Varlamov made 38 saves Friday night as the Colorado Avalanche won 4-1 over Calgary, keeping their own slim playoff hopes alive and virtually extinguishing the Flames' chances to make the post-season.

Colorado entered the night in 10th spot in the Western Conference, two points back of the eighth and final playoff spot, owned by the Los Angeles Kings, who were playing Friday night in Edmonton.

The Avalanche, who lost to San Jose and Vancouver to begin their three-game road trip, pull even with the ninth-place Sharks in points, but Colorado has only two games left. San Jose has four games remaining.

Mark Olver, David Jones, Milan Hejduk and Peter Mueller into an empty net scored for Colorado (41-33-6), which snapped a four-game winless slide. The Avalanche wrap up the season with home games against Columbus and Nashville.

Jarome Iginla on a power play with 38 seconds left in the game, scored the lone goal for Calgary (35-29-15). The Flames, who have three games remaining, fall three points behind Colorado and could be mathematically eliminated as soon as Saturday night when they play in Vancouver.

Gabriel Landeskog's two assists give him 51 points on the season, moving him past New Jersey's Adam Henrique into top spot in the NHL rookie scoring race.

The impressive 19-year-old Swede is also tops amongst rookies in plus-minus at plus-23 after being a plus-3 against Calgary.

The best stops for Varlamov, making his seventh consecutive start, came in the first period, just prior to when Colorado scored its first two goals. Seconds before Olver opened the scoring, the 23-year-old stopped Curtis Glencross' one-timer from the side of the net.

Just prior to Colorado scoring its second goal, Varlamov denied Mike Cammalleri from the slot.

After a five-game winning streak in early March got the Flames into the top eight for the first time all season they could not sustain it, going 1-4-3 in eight games since.

Calgary is in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a third straight season and 10th time in the past 15 years.

During their late season struggles, the Flames' offence has disappeared, scoring just 12 goals during that stretch ??? five coming in their only win. They were held to one or none in five of those games. Iginla's last-minute goal snapped a shutout stretch on home ice of 139:50.

With Calgary's 3-0 loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday night having dashed any realistic hopes of making the playoffs, the Scotiabank Saddledome sell-out crowd of 19,289 was noticeably subdued at the start of Friday night's game. They grew even quieter after Colorado opened the scoring 3:21 into the game.

The goal, credited to Olver, was an own goal with Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester accidentally sweeping the puck under Miikka Kiprusoff and into his own net as he attempted to clear the puck from the slot.

Fans grew disgruntled when Colorado went ahead 2-0 seven minutes later when Jones's wrist shot from the blue-line, during a delayed penalty call, eluded a screened Kiprusoff.

Calgary outshot Colorado 14-10 in the second period as the Flames carried the play in the early going in an attempt to get back into the game.

But, after the Flames were continually turned aside by Varlamov at one end, the opportunistic Avalanche struck at the other end, making it 3-0 on Hejduk's slapshot from the blue-line at 8:29.

Notes: Calgary D Cory Sarich (upper body) returned to the line-up after missing four games. ??? Colorado won the last two meetings of the season series after losing the first four. ??? Colorado LW Jamie McGinn (back) did not play. Taking his spot was former Flame Chuck Kobasew. ??? Colorado did not get a power play all game, the seventh time that's happened this season.

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