Avs lose Johnson, ride Varlamov’s brilliance vs. Chicago

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In some ways, the big picture only got muddier for the Colorado Avalanche, as key defenseman Erik Johnson left Tuesday’s game with a back injury (according to the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater). Still, it all probably feels a little better when you steal a 3-2 OT win against the Chicago Blackhawks, which they did tonight.

As CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers points out, the Avalanche already came into today’s contest at a disadvantage, as Paul Stastny’s injury forced them to enter the game with only 17 skaters. Johnson’s injury bumped that number down to 16, but luckily they had Semyon Varlamov propping them all up in net, as he was often sensational in stopping 46 out of 48 shots.

NHL.com reports that Johnson is considered day-to-day.

The Avalanche subsisted on Varlamov’s outstanding play a strong night for Tyson Barrie, who scored the night’s first and clinching goals. Two of Colorado’s three tallies came on the power play, so you could probably put a check mark in the “finding ways to win” box.

Varlamov’s best moment likely came on this beautiful glove save on Patrick Kane:

Dater rightly notes that the injuries pile up as Johnson, Stastny and J.S. Giguere have had recent flare-ups, so they’ll need people like Varlamov – but probably not Varlamov alone – to keep things together.

It won’t get much easier, either, as they’ll face four of their next six and eight of their next 12 contests on the road.