Game Recap: Varly perfect in shoot out, give the Avs 3-2 win over Wild

Avs earn the fifth win in the last six games, rebounding from the skid with authority.

The Avalanche got on the board less than three minutes in as Gabriel Landeskog picked up a puck behind the net, spun around and backhanded a shot past Josh Harding. John Mitchell got the assist. It was representative of the first third of the opening period as the bounces, battles, and momentum were all going the Avs' way. The Wild had a tough time getting anything going as the boys in the blueberries forced turnovers center ice and stood up the enemy at the blueline repeatedly. While at the other end of the ice, Colorado maintained pressure for shifts at a time, buzzing the net and bringing pucks right back into the offensive zone immediately after the Wild cleared the zone.

That's not to say the Wild weren't generating chances of their own. In fact, the Avs escaped a goal against as a flurry behind Colorado's net ended with the puck centered on the goal line right behind Semyon Varlamov. No one on either team knew where it was a for a few seconds until Torrey Mitchell of the Wild forgot what team he was on and pulled the puck out of danger and back into play.

The Wild saw their best sustained pressure in the final two minutes of the first period with the Avs looking like a team just trying to hang on to end the frame. And hang on they did. The teams left the ice even in nearly all stats, all but the one that really matters: the score, which was 1-0 Avalanche.

The second saw a bit of a reversal as it was the Wild that controlled the action and kept the pressure down low in the Avalanche zone. If it wasn't for some fantastic heads-up play by Varly, it would have been a tied game by the first commercial break. However, after the break, play flipped the other direction again, and the Avs had their turn at some offense. That didn't list long, with the game turning into a defensive battle with neither team getting dangerous looks.

Roy made a line adjustment midway through the period, putting Nathan MacKinnon with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly. Their first shift saw a funky bounce that led to a huge break by Minny's Mitchell, but Varly was as sharp as ever, keeping the Avs up by one.

Some fantastic play by the Wild was negated by the Avs when Mitchell stole the puck in Minnesota's zone and dished it off to MacKinnon. The rookie showed some patience as he waited for his moment and thread the needle over Harding's glove from a ridiculous angle, showing off his ridiculous talent. Two to zip Avalanche.

The goal gave the Avs some jump, and they ended the period in control.

Starting the third saw yet another shake up of lines with MacKinnon and O'Reilly switching sides. Interesting strategy by Roy. His team is winning, yet he's making changes. Is this because he's seeing opportunities to maximize his players or is it designed to keep the Wild guessing?

After another beautiful save by Varly at 8:30 in the final frame, the chants started yet again. Each period saw at least one session of the fans' show of appreciation. While it's awesome that the boys are getting such good goaltending, Varly should not have faced so many shots to begin with. Yes, a team that's down will up the shots in the third, but the Avs also seemed to be playing to hold on to the lead rather than to put the game away.

Nate Guenin got totally burned on a Wild rush and pulled him down to interrupt the scoring op. Should have been a penalty. Might have been a good thing if it was called because immediately after that, Matt Cooke finally found a way to solve Varlamov, sneaking a puck in under the Russian's glove to cut the Avs' lead in half.

With an extra skater and less than 5 seconds left, the "play not to lose" attitude bit the Avs in the butt. Mikko Koivu tied the game at two, sending the game into OT.

Overtime featured two and a half minutes of defensive clogging and two and a half minutes of high octane offense from both teams. However, neither team capitalized on their chances, and the game went to the shoot out for the Avs' first time this season.

Roy elected to go first, sending PA Parenteau out to face Harding. The Wild 'tender read the shot well and denied him. Varly got some help from the crossbar as Zach Parise almost got one. MacKinnon got his first chance at a shoot out goal in his young career, but Harding got his blocker on it. Koivu had a weak bid as the second shooter for the Wild, and Varly made an easy pad save. O'Reilly was the third guy for the Avs and made it look easy, putting the good guys up 1-0 by just waiting Harding out and hitting the net five hole. A beauty of a glove save by Varly on Jason Pominville gave Colorado the win.

MHH Three Stars

- Semyon Varlamov: 36 saves on 37 shots and perfect in the shoot out

- Ryan O'Reilly: game-winning goal, assist

- Nathan MacKinnon: sick goal and lots of sweet chances

Honorable Mentions: Paul Stastny returned to the lineup and was fantastic. 68% on the dot, 19:54 TOI, strong along the boards, and solid play both offensively and defensively; Jan Hejda and Erik Johnson logged 25:55 and 26:03 minutes, respectively, and were solid at both ends of the ice.

Dishonorable Mention: Nate Guenin. His weaknesses have begun to glare like the mid-day summer sun off of high rise hotels in Vegas.

Quick Hits

- Avs are 17-0-0 when scoring first.

- Despite appearing to be a bit invisible this month, Gabriel Landeskog actually leads the Avs with points in November.

- John Mitchell notched his 100th career point with his second assist in the night.

- The Avalanche have the fewest number of players in the league with a negative +/- at zero (jibblesignal!)

- The Avalanche have regained the top spot in the league for save percentage.

- Not a single penalty was called on either team. This is the first time the Avs have gone without a penalty kill since April 9, 2009 against the detroit red wings.

- This was the first shoot out for the Avs this season

- Varly's English has improved so much, holy shit.

Lines

O'Reilly - Duchene - Talbot
Landeskog - Mitchell - MacKinnon
McGinn - Stastny - Parenteau
Bordeleau - Clieche - McLeod

Hejda - Johnson
Sarich - Benoit
Barrie - Guenin

Varlamov

Next Up

The Oilers host the Avs on Thursday.

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