Varlamov strong before exiting, Avs beat Blackhawks 5-0
DENVER (AP) — Semyon Varlamov stopped everything — including a hard-crashing Chicago player late in the third period.
Only, the collision took its toll: sending the Colorado goaltender flying into the net and knocking him out of the game.
Varlamov stopped 30 shots before leaving with an apparent injury, and the Avalanche continued their playoff push with a 5-0 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday night.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar had no update on Varlamov’s status after the victory.
Varlamov was cruising along until Blackhawks forward Tomas Jurco tumbled into his left pad with 6:25 remaining. Varlamov was looked at by trainers before Jonathan Bernier skated in to finish the game.
Bernier, who stopped three shots, and Varlamov combined for the first team shutout in franchise history, according to the Avalanche.
Losing Varlamov — who has a history of groin issues — would be a blow for an Avalanche squad that remains in contention a season after finishing with a league-worst 48 points.
“Varly keeps us in it for a while and then we get our legs going,” Bednar said. “We have to take care of our business. That’s all we can do.”
Collin Delia stopped 31 shots for last-place Chicago. He made his NHL debut the night before, but left in the third due to cramps. That opened the door for Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who made an emergency appearance and became an instant feel-good story.
Delia was impressed by the speed of the Avalanche, whose scoring attack was led by Sven Andrighetto’s two goals . Tyson Barrie, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost also scored.
“Very skilled,” Delia said. “It’s good for me to get in there and see that, see a dominant team like them, how they move the puck.”
Colorado converted each of its three power plays. Rantanen’s goal with the man advantage in the third came off a feed from Nathan MacKinnon, who now has 93 points. It’s the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 100 in 2006-07.
Barrie gave the Avalanche a 2-0 lead at 8:14 of the second period with a shot near the blue line. Barrie then saved a potential goal minutes later when he swatted away a puck that had trickled through the pads of Varlamov, who was back in net after missing a game with an illness.
“It was probably my fault that the puck was even that close to the goal line,” Barrie said. “So, it’s fortunate that I could get a stick on it a couple of times.”
Andrighetto scored the game’s first goal on a power play late in the first period. He skated in, split two defensemen and lifted a shot over Delia for his first goal since Dec. 23 at Arizona. He has missed a total of 31 games this season with what’s been termed by the team as a lower-body injury.
“Definitely a big win for us and we’ve got to keep that going,” Andrighetto said.
Chicago called up goaltender J-F Berube on the heels of Foster’s appearance against Winnipeg on Thursday. Foster was summoned into action when starter Anton Forsberg was hurt during pregame and Delia, who was just recalled from the minors, went out with cramps.
The NHL adjusted its rules last summer to mandate that teams have an emergency goalie present for all home games ready to fill in for either side. Foster, a former goaltender at Western Michigan University, stopped all seven shots.
Foster made an immediate impression.
“What are the chances that someone else ever gets to do that again?” Delia said. “It was good for him and the boys really rallied around him.”
NOTES: Blackhawks D Blake Hillman made his NHL debut. He recently signed a two-year deal with the team after playing down the road at the University of Denver. ... Bernier is quickly mending after suffering a cut on his finger that became infected. “It was pretty bad,” Bernier said. “Lucky enough, didn’t need surgery.” ... Avalanche D Erik Johnson was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. ... It was the Avalanche’s 27th home win, which is tied for second-most in franchise history.
Blackhawks: At St. Louis on Wednesday.
Avalanche: Start a three-game trip Sunday in Anaheim.
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