Semyon Varlamov Shines in Win Over Blackhawks
The goalie made 46 saves against Chicago and remains unbeaten in last 15 games
When the Colorado Avalanche needed a stop, Semyon Varlamov delivered.
Varlamov made 46 saves and kept Colorado in the game long enough Tuesday to pull out a 3-2 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
"We rallied around Varly tonight," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. "We finished the game with 18 players. Against a team like this, it is a matter of finding a way to win the hockey game and that is what we did."
The Russian goalie made 13 saves in the first period, 15 in the second, 14 in the third, and stopped all four shots in overtime. Varlamov's 46 stops are the second most in his career and four saves shy of his career-high 50 he set Feb. 16 of last season in Edmonton.
Varlamov had to be particularly good early in the game as Chicago went on the power play 10 seconds into first period and had three man-advantage chances in the first 21 minutes. The Avs' goalie and penalty kill were up to the task throughout the contest as the Blackhawks were unable to score on any of their five power plays during the game. Varlamov stopped all 13 shots he faced while Colorado was shorthanded.
"Those were huge," Barrie said of the Avs' early penalty kills. "When you take one 10 seconds in it is a tough way to start the game, but I thought we did a great job. Varly made some big stops and kind of got us the momentum."
Varlamov is 9-0-5 in his last 15 games (14 starts), which is the longest streak without a regulation loss in his NHL career. His last regulation loss was Dec. 10 versus Phoenix. He had a 2.17 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in his previous 14 games entering Tuesday's contest.
Barrie said Varlamov's play in the crease has made the defense more confident in that they know their goalie can make a save if they mess up.
"It makes it a lot easier," Barrie said. "You just know that if you do make a mistake, if it happens, he will be there to bail you out. He's been there all year and he's done a great job."
Chicago threw everything they could at Varlamov in the game, but the only two pucks that were able get past the Colorado goalie was a tip on a shot from top of the slot in the second period and a rebound goal after the puck was knocked into the air in the third period.
Two of Varlamov's better saves came at 7:52 of the second period, when he made a sliding, cross-crease glove save to deny Patrick Kane's shot from the right circle, and at 1:28 of overtime, when he stopped Patrick Sharp's shot on a breakaway.
Varlamov has played well this season against Chicago as he now has a 2-0-0 record, a .969 save percentage (95-of-98) and a 1.25 goals-against average in two full games and one period of relief.
"He's been outstanding," Roy said. "We rallied around him, and that is the type of performance we needed from our goalie to beat the Blackhawks."
Tyson Barrie ended the game with a one-timer slap shot from the left circle and set a franchise record in the process.
Barrie scored his third career overtime goal to set a new record for the most OT goals by a defenseman in franchise history. He also scored an overtime winner six days prior, last Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators. Barrie's two OT tallies this season ties the franchise single-season record for a defenseman with Greg de Vries in 2002-03.
The winner came about after the Blackhawks turned over the puck to Matt Duchene while the Avs were on a power play in the final minute of the extra frame. Duchene quickly made a perfect backhand pass to Barrie at the far side of the ice, and D-man ripped a shot past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to give Colorado its seventh OT win of the season.
"He's playing really good hockey right now," Roy said of Barrie. "We just want him to be in the rush, and he scored a nice one in overtime as well. I thought we were patient in the beginning of the 4-on-3, and all of sudden things opened up. I think it was Dutchy that made that pass, it was a super play by him, and it was a nice shot as well. I think there was no way Crawford could have seen that puck."
Barrie scored his first goal after his shot from the right point went through traffic and beat Crawford over his glove hand.
"It was a great play by [Ryan Wilson]," Barrie said. "I was calling for it, 'Over, over, over,' and he made a great pass. I just kind of took a quick wrister, and [Patrick Bordeleau] had a great screen in front. I think it just when over his glove."
It was Barrie's first career multi-goal game, and he is the first Avalanche defenseman to score twice in a game since John-Michael Liles did it on Nov. 15, 2010 versus St. Louis.
Colorado defenseman Nick Holden was back in the lineup after missing the Avs' last game for the birth of his son. He did not travel with the team for the club's Saturday night game at Minnesota.
"Everybody is doing really good, healthy and home now," Holden said before the game against the Blackhawks. "Hopefully everybody gets acquainted at home and starts sleeping a little better."
Holden was paired with Andre Benoit on defense for most of Tuesday's game and had one of his best outings of his career. He led all Avs in ice time with 25:11, including 5:40 while the team was shorthanded, assisted on Ryan O'Reilly's goal that made it 2-0, had two blocked shots, and led the team with four hits.
STASTNY MISSES GAME, LISTED DAY-TO-DAY
There was hope that Paul Stastny would be healthy enough to play against Chicago after suffering a leg injury Saturday in Minnesota.
However, after not practicing Monday or taking part in Tuesday's morning skate, Stastny missed his third game of the season on Tuesday night. He is listed as day to day with the injury.
Stastny had been on quite the roll as of late with nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last five games.
AITTOKALLIO BACKING UP
The Finnish netminder was recalled Monday from Lake Erie after posting an 8-8-1 record, a 2.83 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and one shutout with the Monsters this season.
Aittokallio last appeared in a Colorado uniform on April 11 of last season, as he made his NHL debut in a game at Los Angeles. He stopped 23 of 25 shots before being forced to leave in the third period with leg cramps. The then 20-year-old became the second-youngest goalie to ever make his NHL debut for the Avalanche (Marc Denis, 19, Dec. 7, 1996 at LA).