Avs Hold Off Blackhawks, 3-2
DENVER — Semyon Varlamov stopped 37 shots for his 100th NHL win and Brad Malone scored his first goal of the season, helping the Colorado Avalanche hold off the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, on Wednesday night.
Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly added goals as the Avalanche took four of five from the Blackhawks in the season series. They also moved a point ahead of the defending Stanley Cup champions for second place in the Central Division.
Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad scored for Chicago. Antti Raanta made 26 saves filling in for Corey Crawford. It was the first time Raanta has been in net since Jan. 28.
With a goal and an assist, Duchene extended his points streak to a career-best nine games.
Varlamov became the fourth Russian-born goaltender to record 100 wins, joining Evgeni Nabokov (347), Nikolai Khabibulin (333) and Ilya Bryzgalov (213). This also was Varlamov’s 33rd win, second-most in the league behind Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury (34).
The Avalanche had a two-man advantage for 1:30 midway through the third period following an interference call on Andrew Shaw and a delay of game by Marcus Kruger after he sent the puck into the seats.
O’Reilly capitalized when he grabbed a rebound near the net and knocked it in for a 3-1 advantage.
Chicago pulled Raanta with 2:32 remaining and scored seconds later when Saad knocked the puck past Varlamov. The goal was initially credited to Andrew Shaw.
The Blackhawks momentarily put Raanta back on the ice, but summoned him back to the bench with 1:37 left, leading to a wild finish.
Saad sent a backhander just over the net with 25 seconds left and lined a shot into the chest of Varlamov with 4.9 seconds remaining. After that save, the crowd began chanting “Varly! Varly!”
Duchene staked Colorado to a 2-0 lead 19 seconds into the second period when he sent a wrist shot past Raanta. The Blackhawks sliced into the lead at 8:23 when Kane skated down the right side with defenseman Jan Hejda hanging all over him. Kane found just enough separation to lift backhanded shot over the shoulder of Varlamov for his 29th goal of the season.
Colorado was without forwards P.A. Parenteau (right knee) and Paul Stastny (back). The team called up Paul Carey and Malone from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League to add depth.
Carey made his NHL debut and Malone instantly contributed as he scored late in the opening period. Cruising along the left boards, Malone sent a low liner at Raanta that went right through his legs.
Earlier in the period, defenseman Erik Johnson thought he had a power-play goal when his slap shot appeared to drop into the net off the post. The horn briefly sounded and Johnson lifted his hands into the air, but play continued as the official signaled no goal. Replays showed the puck hit the left post and rolled across the goal line without crossing it.
A minute later, Brent Seabrook clanged a shot off the post.
The Avs are a team built on speed — just like the Blackhawks. First-year Colorado coach Patrick Roy doesn’t mind the comparisons to Chicago, but thinks it might be a little premature because of “what they’ve been able to accomplish. But we certainly look up to them.”
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.