DENVER (AP) – Semyon Varlamov kept the Colorado Avalanche in the game long enough for David Jones to find a way to win it.
These days, being busy is simply all in a night’s work for Varlamov.
The young goaltender stopped 33 shots and Jones scored at 4:43 of overtime, leading the Avalanche to a 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in front of a smattering of boisterous fans that braved a winter storm.
Try as he might, though, Varlamov just couldn’t pick out a save that stood out.
To him, they were all solid as he posted his second shutout of the season.
The closest St. Louis came to getting anything past him was when Alexander Steen lost his balance and slid into the goal.
“Varly looked very sharp,” coach Joe Sacco said. “He’s been doing that lately.”
That he has. He’s seen 126 shots over his past three games.
Not that he minds the work, especially when it pays off like this.
“That was good,” Varlamov said. “We played very well.”
His performance paved the way for Jones, who scored his first goal since Jan. 22. On his only shot of the game, too.
“I placed it well enough to beat,” said Jones, who scored his sixth career OT goal.
Halak had a slightly different take. He thought the puck deflected off a defenseman, leading to the crazy carom that got by him.
“It was a deflection,” Halak said. “Changed direction on me.”
Halak stopped 19 shots in his first appearance since coming off injured reserve earlier this month with a strained groin. He got the start with rookie Jake Allen playing the night before and Brian Elliott struggling.
“It’s always great to be back, back on the ice and playing games and being around the team,” Halak said. “Obviously, I’m not happy with the result.”
Neither was St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock.
“We had all kinds of chances and we didn’t finish around the net,” Hitchcock said. “Left the game out there and they made us pay.”
The Blues have had quite an arduous traveling adventure of late. The team recently spent 14 hours stranded in Vancouver due to plane trouble, only to arrive back in St. Louis at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday. That night, the Blues dropped a 2-1 decision to San Jose.
But they showed no signs of fatigue against Colorado, controlling the pace of play for most of the game.
St. Louis was scheduled to leave town after the game. Weather forecasters were expecting the Denver area to receive up to eight inches of snow.
Colorado suffered a blow to its offense when forward Milan Hejduk didn’t return for the final period because of a torso injury. The 37-year-old just recently recorded the 800th point of his career, becoming only the second Avalanche player to reach that milestone.
Midway through the final period, Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko left the ice with a towel draped over his mouth after taking a hit from Mark Olver near the boards. Tarasenko was escorted by trainers into the locker room.
No penalty was called on the play.
Vladimir Sobotka nearly put the Blues on the board in the second period when he cruised in after two Avalanche players collided near the blue line and knocked each other over. Just as Sobotka was about to shoot, though, Varlamov stuck out his stick and swatted away the puck.
However, Tyson Barrie was called for hooking on the play. St. Louis couldn’t take advantage of the power play, leaving the game scoreless through two periods.
Halak caught a break 40 seconds into the opening period when Jamie McGinn‘s shot clanged off the left post. McGinn had another chance later when P.A. Parenteau hit him in stride at the blue line and he had a clear path to the goal.
But a diving Roman Polak knocked the puck away, along with the goal post as the Blues defenseman slid right into it with his right leg. Polak stayed down in the corner for a few minutes before gingerly skating to the bench. He later returned to the game.
The Avalanche struggled in the first period and had a season-low two shots.
They may soon receive a much-needed offensive boost with captain Gabriel Landeskog on the mend from a concussion that’s sidelined him for nearly a month. Landeskog went through drills with his teammates at the morning skate Wednesday, wearing a bright orange jersey so no one would hit him.
The league’s reigning rookie of the year is hoping to join the team on a three-game road swing through California starting this weekend. He’s trying to quickly work his way back into game shape.
Said Landeskog: “My hands aren’t quite there yet, feet aren’t quite there. My lungs aren’t quite there. But I’m working on it, trying to get better every day.”
Notes: Johnson (head injury) missed his fourth straight game. … Jones is third in franchise history in career OT goals, trailing Hejduk (nine) and Joe Sakic (seven). … Blues D Barret Jackman played in his 615th career game, tying him with Bob Plager for fifth-most in franchise history.
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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