MacKinnon ties it, Varlamov great in shootout; Avs top Blues
DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon has made it a habit of scoring big goals late against the St. Louis Blues.
MacKinnon tied the game late in the third period, Semyon Varlamov made 33 saves and stopped all three attempts in the shootout and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Blues 2-1 on Friday night.
Gabriel Landeskog scored the only goal in the shootout.
The end of regulation was almost a repeat of Colorado’s 4-3 win over St. Louis on Jan. 6. In that game MacKinnon sent it to overtime at 18:31 of the third.
Friday, his goal came with 53.7 seconds left and spoiled a shutout bid for St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott.
“I got a lucky bounce the last time I tied it up,” MacKinnon said. ”(Friday), it was a great play by my teammates and I’m just happy it hit the net.”
Landeskog scored on the first shot of the shootout and then Varlamov took over. He stopped Alexander Steen and then smothered a shot by Vladimir Tarasenko that held up under review.
Troy Brouwer had the last try, but Varlamov made the save.
It was Colorado’s first shootout of the season. It is the last NHL team to take part in one this season.
“You play 60 minutes like that — well 59 — and you don’t come out with a win,” Elliott said. “It’s frustrating but it’s a lesson that you have to put teams away.”
Elliott had 40 saves and Steen scored the only goal for St. Louis. The Blues had their three-game winning streak stopped.
“We’re getting points. That’s all that matters,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Got to take this one when it gets to a shootout on the road with what we’re dealing with. Pretty happy.”
It looked like the Blues would close out this one when the Avalanche struck late.
With Varlamov off for an extra skater, Colorado kept the play in the St. Louis zone for more than a minute. Matt Duchene found MacKinnon skating to the left circle and his one-timer beat Elliott. It was his 16th of the season.
“Usually tying up those empty-netters are kind of ugly, this one was I guess pretty,” MacKinnon said. “It’s a huge goal for our team and Varly was big in the shootout. Gabe had a big goal as well.”
Colorado had a power play for the final 1:58 of overtime but couldn’t score.
Varlamov helped get the Avalanche to overtime with two saves on St. Louis breakaways. He stopped Robby Fabbri on the first one at 13:31 of the first and then stoned Tarasenko in the first minute of the third period.
“Varly was really good at those key moments,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said.
It was a tight-checking game from the start, but St. Louis broke through late in the second period. Brouwer stole a clearing attempt by Carl Soderberg at the point and fed Steen coming down the right side. Steen’s shot went through Varlamov and trickled into the net at 17:57. It was his 15th of the season.
The scoreboard clock stopped counting down just before Steen’s goal. It stayed that way the rest of the second period and the public address announcer called out the time at regular intervals.
The clock was working again at the start of the third period.
Colorado thought it had the tying goal at 6:16 of the third when Soderberg jammed the puck through Elliott’s legs, but referee Kelly Sutherland waved it off because the play was ruled dead.
“We stayed focused,” Roy said. “It could have been easy to panic and be (angry) and have excuses to lose the game. We kept pushing.”
NOTES: Avalanche RW Blake Comeau was a healthy scratch so he could be with his wife, who gave birth to the couple’s second daughter earlier Friday. ... The Blues sent D Andre Benoit to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. ... Colorado D Erik Johnson missed his ninth straight game with a lower-body injury. He is expected to play Saturday night in Dallas.