Jamie McGinn

Avalanche score with seconds left in third, beat Sabres

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The Colorado Avalance and Buffalo Sabres both need every point they can get to stay alive in their respective conferences. It therefore seems appropriate that this game went all the way to a shootout after a tying goal with mere seconds left in the third period.

Neither team ever gained more than a one-goal lead in Colorado’s 5-4 shootout victory. The Avalanche did outshoot their opponent 42-24, but the Sabres made the most of their opportunities. Buffalo’s Drew Stafford netted an unassisted shorthanded goal in the first period while Marcus Foligno found the back of the net twice. Defenseman Alexander Sulzer scored just his second career NHL goal in 80 games.

Calder Trophy contender Gabriel Landeskog answered for Colorado with his 20th goal and 26th assist of the season. However, it was Jamie McGinn that was the hero tonight. After netting the Avalanche’s first goal at 8:55 of the first period, McGinn extended the game by scoring the tying goal in the dying moments of the third period. You check out the highlights below.

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Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals on 24 shots through the overtime period, but he has been excellent in the shootout this season. He turned aside all three of the Sabres’ attempts to improve to 8-0 in 2011-12 shootouts.

Buffalo can take some comfort in knowing that they ended up with one point, even though they were so close to walking away with two. They are now three points behind the eighth place Washington Capitals, but Buffalo has played in one extra game. The Sabres will now head to Florida for games against the Panthers on Saturday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Colorado now has 80 points in 72 games, which keeps them in the pack as five teams’ battle for the seventh and eighth seeds in the Western Conference. The Avalanche won’t have any time to savor this victory as they need to head to New Jersey for Thursday’s game against the Devils.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.