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Varlamov’s 35 saves lifts Avalanche past Wild, 5-4
Question of the Day
DENVER (AP) - Semyon Varlamov celebrated his new contract with another stellar performance in net.
It was quite a day for the 25-year-old Varlamov, who also finalized a five-year extension with Colorado that runs through the 2018-19 season.
“It was a big day for us. I’m sure it’s a great day for Varly as well,” first-year coach Patrick Roy said. “He certainly deserved that contract. We’re very happy it’s a done deal.”
The Avalanche acquired Varlamov from Washington in July 2011, and the Russian turned in a pair of inconsistent seasons under former coach Joe Sacco. He has flourished under the tutelage of Roy, a Hall of Fame goalie, and goaltender coach Francois Allaire, improving to 27-9-5 with Thursday’s win.
Colorado needed every bit of Varlamov’s talent against Minnesota. He helped the Avalanche win the season series 4-0-1 and move nine points ahead of the Wild in the Central Division. Colorado has a firm grasp on third place and the final automatic playoff seed in the division.
“It was a big game for us. We have three games in hand and we’re up (nine) points in the standings,” Duchene said. “That puts us well ahead and we just have to keep taking care of business.”
Zach Parise had two goals and two assists and Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville also scored for Minnesota, which went 9-4-1 in January to get into the thick of the postseason race.
Mitchell broke a 1-1 tie with his sixth goal of the season at 1:43. Stastny scored his 16th of the season on a rebound midway through the period, and Talbot used the stick of Wild center Kyle Brodziak to make it 4-1 at 15:26. Brodziak had gathered a rebound in front of goalie Darcy Kuemper when Talbot came in from behind and hit the center’s stick to put the puck in the net.
“We were so good the first two periods,” Roy said. “Offensively this is the best I’ve seen our team play. We were cycling the puck, moving it quick. We had tons of chances.”
A minute later, Niklas Backstrom replaced Kuemper, who had 19 saves.
“I let him know it wasn’t him,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “I did it to try to change the momentum at that point.”
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