By Jim Cerny, BlueshirtsUnited.com
The Rangers have seen Semyon Varlamov do this to them before, standing on his head to put a dagger through their hearts and hand the Blueshirts a bitter defeat. In the 2009 playoffs Varlamov, then a member of the Washington Capitals, repeatedly stoned the Rangers in helping oust the Blueshirts over seven games.
Saturday night at The Garden Varlamov was at it again. This time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche Varlamov stopped 41 of 42 shots---including all 16 he faced in a wild third period---to hand the Rangers a 3-1 defeat. The Rangers have now lost two straight and five of their last seven, with their lead in the Eastern Conference now trimmed to two points over the surging Pittsburgh Penguins, who won their 11th straight game Saturday afternoon.
The Rangers actually were able to score first against Varlamov and the Avalanche, on a Mats Zuccarello deflection 10:43 into the game. The goal was Zuccarello's first of the season, and came after he charged to front of Varlamov's crease to redirect Dan Girardi's right-wing shot/pass.
However Varlamov would go on to stop every other Blueshirt shot, making spectacular saves along the way on Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Dubinsky, and Brad Richards. Zuccarello also wired a third-period shot off of the post as the Rangers dominated the final 20 minute sof play to no avail.
Matt Hunwick scored off a gorgeous move around Stu Bickel to tie the game with 4:59 to play in the opening period, and then rookie Gabriel Landeskog deflected a Ryan Wilson slap shot between the pads of Henrik Lundqvist at the 9:51 mark of the sceond period to puts the Avs ahead 2-1.
Paul Stastny scored his 18th goal into an empty net with 13.1 seconds to play to ice the victory for Colorado, which finished off a 2-0-1 road trip to the East Coast.
Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto both returned to the Rangers lineup and each played more than 25 minute son Saturday. Callahan led the Rangers with seven shots on goal, while Del Zotto played a solid game at both ends, finishing with three shots on goal.
Lundqvist stopped 18 of 20 shots for the Rangers after missing the previous two games with the flu.