The Colorado Avalanche continued their winning ways on Thursday, defeating the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 to secure home ice advantage during the opening round of the NHL playoffs. The win, coupled with St. Louis losing their fourth game in a row, left the Avalanche with the Blues tied for the most points in the Central Division (111). With two games remaining and the tiebreaker in hand, the Avalanche now find themselves atop the Central Division standings.
The Avalanche got two goals from assistant captain Paul Stastny in the victory; along with one apiece from John Mitchell and Tyson Barrie. They also got stellar goaltending from Semyon Varlamov, who cast aside 38 of 40 shots to pick up his league-leading 41st victory. With 41 wins, the Varlamov also surpasses Patrick Roy (2000-2001) to move into sole possession of the franchise’s record for most wins in a single season. Now his head coach, Roy did not seem to mind that his record fell.
"The coach is very happy; we're going to call Patrick tomorrow to let him know Varly beat the record," joked Roy after the game. "I am sure he's going to be OK with it"
Leading the league in both wins and saves, while also ranking third in save percentage; Varlamov has catapulted himself into contention for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s top goaltender. The 25-year-old Russian was quick to give credit to his coaching.
"I'm pretty lucky to have Patrick as coach, and Francois Allaire is one of the best goalie coaches in the world, for sure," said Varlamov. "He helped me a lot this year, changing my style a little bit. Those two have done a great job."
Getting hot at just the right time, Colorado has earned at least one point in nine straight games (8-0-1). Stastny has four goals in his last four contests; while Barrie continues his late game heroics; scoring his third goal in the past five matchups (quite the feat for a defenseman).
"Pure poise, such a beautiful goal," said Stastny of Barrie’s game-winning snipe.
Colorado ss back in action Friday against the San Jose Sharks. They will close out the regular season Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks, with first place in the Western Confernece potentially on the line.