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Avs try for third straight win in home tilt against Sabres

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche will aim for a third straight victory when they welcome the lowly Buffalo Sabres for Saturday's afternoon battle at the Pepsi Center.

Colorado has played terrific hockey of late, going 11-3-1 over the last 15 games, but the club is still running third in the Central Division and the Avs are four points behind the second-place Blues.

One of the biggest reasons for Colorado's surprisingly successful season has been the play of No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The 25-year-old Russian is 27-9-5 this season with a 2.47 goals against average and .924 save percentage and he was rewarded with a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension on Thursday, hours before he helped Colorado hold on for a 5-4 home win over Minnesota.

Varlamov's extension kicks in at the start of next season and makes him property of the Avs through the 2008-19 campaign.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon's breakaway goal with 2:25 remaining in the third period wound up being the game-winner for the Avalanche against the Wild.

Colorado had entered the third with a 4-1 lead, but the Wild got two goals before MacKinnon beat Minnesota netminder Niklas Backstrom on the glove side to make it 5-3. Minnesota's Jason Pominville scored 11 seconds after MacKinnon, but the Wild couldn't complete the comeback.

Ryan O'Reilly, Paul Stastny, John Mitchell and Maxime Talbot also scored for the Avalanche.

"It was a tight game and we need to figure out these third periods where we have the lead and you know, we kind of relinquish that," said Mitchell

Varlamov made 31 saves to end the month with a 10-1-1 record and set a club record for the most wins by a goalie in January. His 10 victories in January also matched a franchise mark for any month, joining Craig Anderson (October 2009), Peter Budaj (March 2007) and Dan Bouchard (February 1981) in the club annals.

Colorado improved to 18-7-3 as the host with Thursday's win and this afternoon's test marks the club's final home tilt before the Olympic break. The Avs will start a four-game road trip Monday in New Jersey and will complete the swing next Saturday against the New York Islanders.

The Sabres are last in the NHL with 38 points through 53 games and Buffalo has a poor 6-15-3 record as the road team in 2013-14. However, the Sabres have posted wins in two of their last three away tilts and they managed to record a 3-2 regulation win Thursday at Phoenix.

Zemgus Girgensons netted the game-winner while his club was shorthanded early in the third period, as Buffalo slipped past the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. Tyler Ennis and Steve Ott also supplied offense for the Sabres. Ryan Miller collected his second win in three starts thanks to 38 saves, and improved to 6-0-0 all-time against the Coyotes.

"We wanted to come in and play extremely hard," Ott said. "I thought we did that tonight."

The win did come at a cost for the Sabres, however, as forward Matt Moulson suffered an upper-body injury in the third period and did not return. Moulson, who has nine goals and 15 assists in 40 games since joining the Sabres in late October as part of the Thomas Vanek trade, is expected to miss the team's final four games before the Olympic break.

Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is also questionable for Saturday after missing Thursday's game with an illness.

Colorado has won six straight meetings against the Sabres, who last beat the Avs in a 6-4 decision in Denver on Dec. 4, 2005. Buffalo has lost two straight at Pepsi Center since that victory.

02/01 11:29:51 ET

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Schedule

Sunday, April 20Full Scoreboard
Philadelphia «4Final | Box
NY Rangers2Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Detroit1Final | Box
Boston «4Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Tampa Bay2Final | Box
Montreal «3Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Three. Montreal leads series, 3-0.
Los Angeles2Final | Box
San Jose «7Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. San Jose leads series, 2-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 6
DUR 3
 
Final
MIA 99
CHA 88
12:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CLE 6
TOR 4
Final
DET 2
ANA 1
Final
NYM 4
ATL 3
Final
MIA 3
SEA 2
Final
PIT 2
MIL 3
Final
WAS 3
STL 2
Final
TAM 1
NYY 5
Final
KAN 3
MIN 8
Final
CHC 2
CIN 8
Final
TEX 2
CWS 16
Final
OAK 4
HOU 1
Final
LOS 4
ARI 1
Final
COL 9
PHI 10
Final
SDP 3
SFG 4
Final
BOS 6
BAL 5
11:05am Today
BOS
BAL
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
CIN
 
7:05pm Tonight
CLE
KAN
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
ANA
 
7:08pm Tonight
DET
CWS
 
7:10pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
STL
 
8:05pm Tonight
CHC
ARI
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIL
SDP
 
8:40pm Tonight
COL
SFG
 
10:05pm Tonight
OAK
TEX
 
10:10pm Tonight
SEA
HOU
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
PHI
 
Final
SAN 90
DAL 85
Final
MIA 99
CHA 88
Final
CHI 93
WAS 102
Final
HOU 120
POR 122
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
GSW
Final
NYR 2
PHI 4
Final
BOS 4
DET 1
Final
MON 3
TAM 2
Final
SJS 7
LOS 2
7:00pm Tonight
MIN
COL
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
PIT
8:30pm Tonight
CHI
STL
9:30pm Tonight
DAL
ANA
Final
NOR 6
DUR 3
 
12:05pm Today
NOR
DUR