Semyon Varlamov strong as Colorado Avalanche bury St. Louis Blues

By Rob Rains, The Sports Xchange
St. Louis Blues' Kyle Brodziak tips the net over on Colorado Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov of Russia in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 13, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
1 of 3 | St. Louis Blues' Kyle Brodziak tips the net over on Colorado Avalanche's Semyon Varlamov of Russia in the first period at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 13, 2015. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

ST. LOUIS -- There is something about playing the St. Louis Blues that seems to bring out the best in Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov.

He is just not eager to explain what it is.


Varlamov stopped a season-high 42 of 43 shots in carrying the Avalanche to a 3-1 win over the Blues on Sunday night.

"Lots of shots, I saw most of them which is really important for me," Varlamov said. "They did a great job in front of me boxing out the players. That was the key for sure."

Colorado coach Patrick Roy started Varlamov even though he played Saturday night in Nashville, earning a 3-2 win over the Predators.

In the two games in just less than 24 hours Varlamov stopped 76 of 79 shots.

"He was our best player tonight," Roy said "He's a strong man and he's capable of taking a lot of shots."


Varlamov just missed recording his first shutout of the season on a power-play goal by right winger Vladimir Tarasenko in the third period. It would have been the fourth of his career in 15 games against the Blues.

The Blues outshot the Avalanche 43-18, a season-high in shots for the Blues and equal to the fewest shots they have allowed in a game this season. The 18 shots also tied the fewest in a game for the Avalanche this year.

"Out-shooting your opponent doesn't always lead to a victory but it certainly drives our game," said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. "He's a big goalie and goes down and kind of keeps his shoulders up to make sure he takes away as much net as possible and tries to block it. Kudos to him, he made some really big saves at crucial times. We missed a lot of chances."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock did not want to give too much credit to Varlamov.

"When you start giving credit to the goaltender then you're in trouble," Hitchcock said. "It doesn't matter how many chances we had, we didn't out-work the goalie. We couldn't get the first goal early enough in the game and we couldn't finish them off.


"You've got to be able to score two or more goals in your own building if you expect to win, you've got to bury those opportunities. I would call this a missed opportunity, that's the best way to describe it. Hopefully the players are a little bit angry and disappointed and we'll grow from it."

The Avalanche got first-period goals from right winger Jack Skille and center John Mitchell -- on Colorado's first five shots on goal -- and Varlamov protected the lead until center Carl Soderberg added an empty-net goal with 22 seconds to play.

A turnover by Blues' defenseman Petteri Lindbohm in the neutral zone set up the goal by Skille, his third of the season, at 6:09 of the opening period.

The Blues had a golden opportunity to tie the game, but Varlamov stopped a point-blank shot by right winger Dmitrij Jaskin and the Avalanche immediately responded with Mitchell's seventh goal of the season off a feed from left winger Alex Tanguay at 11:50.

Tarasenko, celebrating his 24th birthday, cut the lead to 2-1 with a power-play goal at 12:55 of the third period. The goal was his 18th of the season and came off a rebound of a shot by Paul Stastny, 21 seconds after Tanguay was sent off the ice for a hooking penalty.


The loss came one night after the Blues shut out the league-leading Dallas Stars 3-0 and marked the sixth time they failed to win consecutive games since putting together a three-game winning streak from Nov. 4-10.

"It's hard when we feel like we're gaining momentum," Shattenkirk said. "We played such a great game last night against Dallas and now come back and lose one to a divisional opponent. These are games we are letting slip away."

NOTES: With 84 career NHL goals on his 24th birthday, RW Vladimir Tarasenko has the most goals at that age for the Blues since Doug Gilmour scored 113 from 1983-87. ... LW Gabriel Landeskog returned to the Avalanche lineup after missing the last two games because of back spasms. ... The Blues kept the same lineup for the fourth consecutive game, scratching C Scott Gomez and D Robert Bortuzzo. ... The Avalanche will conclude a three-game trip on Tuesday night in Chicago. That will complete a stretch that has the Avalanche playing 20 of their first 32 games this season on the road. ... The Blues completed a five-game homestand. They will play at Winnipeg on Tuesday night.


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