NEW YORK (AP) — Semyon Varlamov helped the Colorado Avalanche get the new season off to a winning start and spoiled Kevin Shattenkirk’s first game with his hometown team.
Varlamov stopped 37 shots, Tyson Barrie scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and the Avalanche beat the New York Rangers 4-2 in the teams’ opener Thursday night.
“I definitely felt good out there,” Varlamov said. “I felt very confident, I had a couple good saves at the beginning of the game, and those saves gave me confidence. I saw lots of shots from the outside, which is thanks to my teammates.”
Matt Duchene and Mikko Rantanen scored in the first period, and Gabriel Landeskog added an empty-netter for the Avalanche, who finished with the fewest points in the NHL last season.
“That’s a pretty big night by Varly in order to get us the win,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “That’s how you win — your top guys step up. Varly was on top of our list.”
Mika Zibanejad scored two power-play goals late in the first period for the Rangers, and Henrik Lundqvist had 22 saves.
Shattenkirk, who grew up a Rangers fan in suburban New Rochelle and signed with New York in the offseason, had an assist to move one point away from 300 for his career.
“The result still stings right now,” he said. “When I look back on it a long time from now, it will obviously be a great moment for me. It’s still a special night in my career. But right now I think I am just a little upset with the result and some plays out there that I felt like I could have had a better effect on the game and helped our team out a little bit more.”
New York finished 2 for 6 on the power play, and Colorado was 1 for 5.
Zibanejad missed the net from the left circle about 4 1/2 minutes into the third period. Varlamov, who stopped David Desharnais in close earlier in the third, denied Rick Nash up front 20 seconds later, and the Avalanche goalie then thwarted Brady Skjei’s wraparound attempt about six minutes in.
Varlamov also made two big saves on Zibanejad with about four minutes to go.
The Rangers pulled Lundqvist for an extra skater with 1 1/2 minutes remaining, but couldn’t get the tying goal. Landeskog capped the scoring with just under 3 seconds left.
Both goalies made some nice stops in a chippy second period that saw the teams combine for eight penalties — five by the Rangers.
Barrie put the Avalanche up 3-2 as he came up the middle, took a pass from rookie Alex Kerfoot, skated up and fired it past Lundqvist into the top left corner with 2:10 remaining in the middle period.
“That was a sweet dish,” Barrie said of Kerfoot’s pass. “His patience, it’s fun to watch. I just came in late, and didn’t even really call for it, he just put it on my tape, and I fired as quick as I could.”
Duchene, still with the Avalanche after being involved in offseason trade rumors, got Colorado on the scoreboard 5:29 into the game. Lundqvist stopped the initial shot by Nail Yakupov, but the puck dropped to the goalie’s left and Patrick Nemeth and Duchene both took whacks at the puck with Duchene putting it in.
After getting several good looks during their first power play a minute later, the Rangers then fell behind 2-0 as the Avalanche took advantage of their first man-advantage.
With New York’s 18-year-old rookie center Filip Chytil off for tripping, Rantanen took a pass from Nathan MacKinnon in the right circle and beat Lundqvist with a slap shot into the top right corner with 9:07 left in the first.
With the Rangers on the power play, Chris Kreider nearly got the Rangers on the scoreboard as his attempt on a rebound of Shattenkirk’s shot hit the right post. Seconds later, the puck came back to Shattenkirk and he passed it to the left to Zibanejad, who fired it past Varlamov with 3:32 to go.
The Rangers were on the power play again when Zibanejad got his second of the game from beyond the left circle off a pass from Mats Zuccarello with 2 seconds left in the period.
NOTES: Zibanejad became the first Rangers player with two power-play goals on opening night since Jaromir Jagr against Philadelphia on Oct. 5, 2005. … C Chytil, selected No. 21 overall in the NHL Draft, became the fourth-youngest player to appear in a game for the Rangers at 18 years, 30 days old, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … The teams conclude the season series Jan. 20 at Colorado. … Barrie is now eight points from becoming the sixth defenseman in franchise history to reach 200 for his career.
Avalanche: At New Jersey on Saturday.
Rangers: At Toronto on Saturday night.
By VIN A. CHERWOO, AP Sports Writer
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