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.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

You can see full game highlights above the headline of this post.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock

Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: