DENVER, CO - APRIL 03: Goalie Semyon Varlamov #1 of the Colorado Avalanche makes a glove save against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on April 3, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Rangers 3-2 in an overtime shootout.

Varlamov shuts out Blues in Avs’ 50th victory


The Colorado Avalanche continued their march towards the playoffs with a decisive 4-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues this afternoon. Semyon Varlamov stopped 31 shots to earn his second shutout of the season.

The game got ugly in the third period with St. Louis’ David Backes, Barret Jackman, Maxim Lapierre, and Brenden Morrow each being handed misconducts. Morrow was also charged with a cross-checking major on the Avalanche’s John Mitchell. In total, the Blues accumulated 61 penalty minutes in the third period.

Colorado has now won six straight games to pull away from Chicago in the battle for the second seed in the Central Division. The Avalanche have a three-point edge over the Blackhawks and have played in one less game.

Varlamov was the clear difference today, which is normal for Colorado, but forwards Paul Stastny and Nathan MacKinnon also came up big.

Stastny had a goal and three points for Colorado. MacKinnon assisted on Stastny’s marker before finding the back of the net himself:

With that, MacKinnon has become the first rookie since Jeff Skinner in 2010-11 to reach the 60-point mark.

The Boston Bruins won today, so St. Louis is now two points back in the battle for the Presidents’ Trophy, although the Blues have played in one less game. St. Louis will play in Chicago on Sunday while Colorado will host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.