The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL - April 18th, 2014

Doug Pensinger

Colorado is youthful, and Roy knows how to handle a young team.

The Avalanche not only matched a franchise record for wins (52), but secured the Central Division as they return to the postseason for the first time in four years. They host the Minnesota Wild in the opener of a best-of-seven series Thursday night.

“From the get-go, our guys came to camp and were ready,” Roy said. “They wanted to be different, they wanted to see a change, and they play hard.

“They were working hard, they were focused and they wanted to have a good year.”

Roy will be no doubt be a strong candidate for coach of the year for the job he’s done — taking a 16-win team during a lockout-shortened season to 52 victories.

But he’s not the only one possibly in line for some prestigious awards: Nathan MacKinnon appears to be a virtual lock for rookie of the year and Semyon Varlamov should be among the favourites for the Vezina Trophy, which is given to the league’s best goaltender. Varlamov finished with a franchise-record 41 wins, surpassing Roy’s total (40) back when the Hall of Famer led the team to the 2000-01 Stanley Cup title.

Avs won their first playoff game.

“We believe in ourselves,” said Roy, who won two Stanley Cup titles for the Avalanche as a player and helped guide the team back to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

“Sometimes, you’re not playing your best game, but the quality of our team is we found a way to win this game. That’s what you want in the playoffs.”

Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn also added goals for Colorado.

Stastny beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a close-in wrist shot in overtime, the same type of play Stastny used to tie the game in regulation.

Not that the Avalanche were too surprised by the late rally because, “we’ve done it all year,” Stastny said.

It’s becoming their calling card.

“Once again, it shows character in this dressing room,” Landeskog said. “There’s no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home ice advantage and we weren’t going to let this one slide.”

It took more than 100 minutes to decide the winner between the Blues and the Hawks.

Alexander Steen scored at 26 seconds of the third overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Thursday night.

Steen beat Corey Crawford off a pair of short passes from Steve Ott and David Backes to cap the longest overtime game in franchise history.

“It’s big. We want to start this series off on a good note,” Steen said. “Especially at home in front of our fans.”

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