In a contest between two teams fighting to stay in their respective playoff races, the Colorado Avalanche edged the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in a shootout on Thursday night in Denver.

The Avs now sit just six points out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference after winning nine of their last 13 outings.

Semyon Varlamov returned to the net for the Avalanche (31-26-11) and stopped 23 shots plus two of the three shootout attempts he faced after a one-game absence with a groin complication. The Avs needed their netminder to be sharp early as they were outshot 13-3 in the first frame. Varly is on a season-long four-game winning streak.

“I guess the guys wanted to make sure [Varlamov] was ready.” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “He was phenomenal in the first, he made some great saves and kept us there.”

Jarome Iginla was the hero on this evening – providing the Avs’ lone-regulation marker and then scoring the game-winning goal in the shootout. He tied Joe Sakic for 40th all-time by playing in his 1,378th game.

“[Iginla] scored two big goals tonight,” said coach Roy. “One on five-on-five and one in the shootout. He made a nice move on their goalie.”

The Devils (28-29-11) have dropped four straight and seven of their last eight meetings with the Avs. Their last win in Denver came on March 15, 2008.

Colorado improved to 8-2-0 when they wear their blue jerseys this season.

Iginla opened the scoring early in the second period when he tracked down a loose puck in the slot and released a quick shot over Cory Schneider.

Andy Green tied the game at 14:12 of the second stanza. He released a bomb from the point and caught a lucky break as his shot caromed off of Zach Redmond’s skate at the last second and beat Varlamov.

Ryan O’Reilly and Iginla scored in the shootout to secure the victory and two important points in the standings.

“For us it’s an important win,” coach Roy said. “We’re certainly happy about the result. We know one thing, we’re going to have to have a better start against Calgary.”

The Avs wrap up their three-game homestand when the Calgary Flames come to town in Saturday.

Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.

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