Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has been the backbone of the Colorado Avalanche and if the team has any shot of making the playoffs, he's going to need to play the best hockey of his career. Varlamov's glove save on Jon Merrill in overtime of Thursday's game against New Jersey should give Avalanche fans hope he's ready for the challenge.
If the Colorado Avalanche have any shot at making the playoffs, they're going to need Semyon Varlamov to be the goaltender he was last season. His glove save on Devils defenseman Jon Merrill in overtime should help inspire some confidence that he might be able to put the Avalanche into the postseason again.
With New Jersey and Colorado tied 1-1 with time winding down in the extra frame, Adam Henrique made a beautiful behind the back pass to Travis Zajac. Zajac saw Merrill breaking down the right wing and shuffled the puck over to the wing. Merrill had no defenders in front of him and a clear one-on-one with Varlamov, and with the puck sliding towards him he stepped into it, unloading a rocket of a slapshot. Varlamov was equal to the task:
The save was one of 29 that Varlamov made on the evening and was the biggest stop of the night by either goaltender. Eventually, the two teams headed to a shootout, which the Avalanche won thanks to shootout tallies from Ryan O'Reilly and Jarome Iginla.
Colorado's victory moves them six points back of the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, and the spread is enough that it's going to take a month of incredible hockey by the Avalanche paired with a bit of luck in order to get a playoff berth. If they've got Varlamov playing lights out, though, their chances are significantly improved.