Varlamov stones ex-mates as Avs top Capitals

Michael Kelly, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov didn't face a shot until midway through the first period Sunday. Once they pucks started flying, the Colorado Avalanche goaltender was nearly perfect against his old team.
Varlamov stopped 33 shots, defenseman Nick Holden scored his first NHL goal, and the Avalanche beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 at Pepsi Center.
Colorado left winger Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist, and right winger P.A. Parenteau and left winger Patrick Bordeleau also had goals as the Avalanche (14-2-0) won their second in a row.
"We're playing like we're a .500 hockey team and not a 14-2 team," center Matt Duchene said. "That's the key. You stay grounded and you stay humble and hungry. We love winning, it's so much fun."
Right winger Joel Ward scored, and goaltender Braden Holtby made 33 saves for the Capitals (9-8-1). Washington lost for the second time in as many nights.
"We played a decent hockey game," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "We let it get away at the end, but it was a decent game."
Washington blew a two-goal lead in the third period Saturday to lose to the Coyotes in a shootout at Phoenix.
On Sunday, Varlamov made Colorado's lead in the third stand up. The former Capitals netminder made 14 saves in the period and came up big when Washington had 56 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage. He stopped five shots to keep the Capitals from cashing in and got a big ovation when the second penalty expired.
"They have so many good players, the best power play in the league, but I think we did a great job on the PK, and that's why we got a positive result," Varlamov said.
Varlamov continued his strong start to the season and bounced back allowing five goals in a 6-4 loss to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. He is now 9-2 on the season, 1-0 against his old team. The Capitals traded Varlamov to the Avalanche in July 2011.
"Varly was again outstanding," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "Your penalty-killing needs outstanding goaltending, and we had that tonight."
A little more than a minute after killing the penalty, Parenteau beat Holtby to give Colorado a 3-1 lead.
The Capitals had a goal disallowed when left winger Alex Ovechkin kicked in the puck with 2:28 left. Colorado sealed the victory on Landeskog's sixth goal of the season with 1:40 left.
The disallowed goal added to Ovechkin's frustration. He was held in check by Colorado's top defensive pairing -- and by Varlamov, who turned away all seven of his shots.
"We had our chances to score, but we didn't. Again, when we didn't score 5-on-3, I think (it was) a frustration moment," Ovechkin said. "But again, this happens. We have to fight through it."
The second period had just two goals but was full of scoring chances. Both teams had 16 shots on goal in the frame, keeping the goaltenders on their toes.
Ward finally broke through when he scored off a faceoff with 4:12 left to tie it at 1-1.
The Capitals didn't have long to celebrate. On Colorado's next shift, Holden pinched in from the blue line and one-timed a pass from Landeskog to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead just 28 seconds later.
"It's nice that it was the game-winner. Does it make it more special? I don't think so," Holden said. "Scoring your first NHL goal is a dream, to make it the game-winner is awesome."
The Capitals got a scare when Ovechkin went head first into the boards with 2:26 left in the second period. Ovechkin appeared to lose an edge and was falling as Colorado defenseman Jan Hejda checked him in the corner.
Ovechkin lay face down on the ice for several minutes before skating to the bench on his own. He didn't miss a shift.
"I think it was a trip. Hit my head in the board," Ovechkin said. "It was a clear two minutes. Dangerous play."
Hejda saw it differently.
"He goes to the corner, I think the puck was under his legs," the defenseman said. "I'm 100 percent sure I had my stick on the ice and he steps on my stick. He fell and then I fell over him.
"I can't say I was going to hit him hard, I was going to push him into the boards. This is an elite (player), I was going to step the brakes."
NOTES: Washington entered Sunday's game with the NHL's top power-play unit at 28.2 percent and the league's second-ranked penalty kill (88.2 percent). Colorado was the third-best penalty-killing team at 87.5 percent. The Caps failed on four power-play attempts Sunday, while the Avalanche went 0-for-3. ... The teams observed a moment of silence and saluted war heroes in honor of Monday's Veteran's Day. ... Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin is first in the NHL with power-play points (13) and power-play goals (seven). ... Avalanche C Ryan O'Reilly saw his string of goals in three consecutive games end. ... Washington C Marcus Johansson's three-game point streak was snapped. He is tied for seventh in the NHL with 13 assists. ... Colorado has allowed an NHL-low 28 goals.

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