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Avalanche avoid shootout on Jones' late OT goal

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- With time running out and a shootout looming, the Colorado Avalanche got one last rush to end it. David Jones made it count.

Jones scored with 16.4 seconds left in overtime, and the Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 1-0 Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 33 shots for his second shutout of the season and 10th of his career. It was Colorado's second straight win and third in its last four games.

It was a tough finish for St. Louis, which had more chances despite playing on consecutive nights. It was also a tired Blues team after they arrived in St. Louis from Vancouver 12 hours before hosting San Jose on Tuesday and then traveled to Denver following a loss to the Sharks.

"We came off a couple of tough days of travel and we were trying to keep it simple," forward T.J. Oshie said. "I thought we were great tonight up until the overtime. We had a couple of bad shifts but other than that everyone was fine. We were playing like a team but we got away from that in overtime."

It proved costly in the final seconds of the extra period. Defenseman Matt Hunwick brought the puck into the zone and dropped it to Jones, who beat Jaroslav Halak with a shot that appeared to deflect off a Blues player.

"I was shooting the far side, I don't know if it went straight in or not," said Jones, who scored for the first time since the second game of the season. "It seemed to have an awful lot of net on that side."

Halak had 19 saves and lost for the first time in six games this season.

"We had all kinds of chances, didn't finish around the net left the game out there and then made a mistake on the backcheck," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That was the end of the game."

The Avalanche (7-7-1) scored six goals in a wild win Monday but had only four shots midway through Wednesday's game. The Blues didn't generate many more chances than Colorado but had a 24-10 advantage in shots heading into the third.

"The shots weren't really an indication of the first period," Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. "We passed up on many shots. I don't think we funneled enough pucks to the net. We could have easily had six, seven, eight more shots in the first period."

Neither team was whistled for a penalty until Colorado's Tyson Barrie drew a minor for hooking midway through the second period.

Halak, playing in his first game since suffering a groin injury Feb. 1, was sharp when he needed to be to keep the game scoreless into overtime.

Varlamov was more tested but kept the Avalanche in it by stopping 31 shots in regulation.

"He was excellent, especially early when they had some more chances than we did," Sacco said.

The Blues (9-6-2) nearly broke through with 12 minutes left in regulation when former Colorado forward Chris Stewart was alone in front of the net, but Stewart shot the puck wide.

"I wish I could have that one back. I got a little too jumpy there," Stewart said. "I've got to be more patient in the slot."

A minute later, St. Louis rookie Vladimir Tarasenko left the game after taking a hard hit from Mark Olver.

Colorado played the third period without forward Milan Hejduk, who suffered a torso injury in the second period.

NOTES: The Avalanche are 2-1 in overtime/shootouts and St. Louis is 4-2. ... Blues defenseman Roman Polak was down on the ice after sliding into his own goal post late in the first period. He stayed on the ice for a few minutes before skating off on his own. He returned to the game. ... St. Louis' Kevin Shattenkirk led all NHL defensemen with 14 points entering play Wednesday, while teammate Alex Pietrangelo was tied for third with 12. ... Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog took part in the team's practice Tuesday but was designated noncontact. He has been skating on his own since Friday while trying to recover from a head injury suffered Jan. 26 against San Jose. He has missed 11 games. ... Former Blues No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson was out of the lineup. The Colorado defenseman missed his fourth straight game with a head injury.
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