When an NHL team is outshot 60-27, you’d assume they lost the game - luckily for the Colorado Avalanche last night, that’s not the case. Despite being thoroughly manhandled by the Carolina Hurricanes for the vast majority of the game, the Avs were able to escape with a 5-3 victory. Add this one to the list of games Semyon Varlamov has stolen for the Avalanche this season.
Varlamov has been the sole reason for at least 3 of the seven wins the Avalanche have so far this season - but this one was special. By stopping 57 of the 60 shots he faced, Varlamov set a Colorado Avalanche franchise record for saves in a game. The 57 saves are the most in a game since the team moved to Denver - Ron Tugnutt made 70 saves for the Quebec Nordiques against the Boston Bruins back in 1991.
It looked like it was going to be a long night as Varlamov gave up a very weak goal less than a minute into the game. After that, he shut the door and turned in one of the best goaltending performances you’ll see in the NHL this season.
With a record of 7-5, the Colorado Avalanche are on pace to crush their win total from a season ago. The biggest difference has been Varlamov. He’s recovered from last year’s injury and looks comfortable in the net, proving he can be one of the upper-tier goaltenders in the NHL when he’s healthy and on his game. He looks poised in his crease and has been able to compensate for a pretty bad defense group in front of him.
The Avalanche are giving up the third most goals against per game in the NHL. As well, they’re fourth from the bottom in in terms of high-danger scoring chances against per game (according to NaturalStattrick.com).
Despite that, the team is winning games. That’s on the goaltending - Varlamov in particular. His .917 save% isn’t overly impressive, but it jumps all the way up to .934 when you exclude his one bad game against Vegas.
He has been great - and now is setting records - but if the Avalanche want to keep their record at or around .500, they're going to have to start giving him a little help. Last night was the best example of how incredible Varlamov this season and he is proving why there should be no question as to who will be the goaltender as this team makes it’s climb to relevance in the NHL.