Goaltender Semyon Varlamov spent eight seasons with the Avalanche before signing with the New York Islanders. And even though his time in Colorado was mired with injuries and disappointment, the veteran goaltender still remains in second place in nearly every major goaltending category in Avs history.
In his first matchup against the Avalanche on Monday, Varlamov did something he was able to do 21 times with the Avs—finish the game with a shutout.
The Islanders scored the lone goal in the third period, defeating the Avalanche 1-0 and handing Colorado its first loss in the new calendar year.
Colorado was outshot 15-5 in the first period, but Avs goalie Pavel Francouz was strong, keeping the game scoreless heading into the second. The Avalanche were better offensively in the final two periods, throwing 27 more shots towards Varlamov, who made numerous spectacular saves to stop the Avs from scoring.
The Islanders’ goal came from captain Anders Lee. Francouz bailed the Avalanche’s defense out a couple of times before the goal was scored, but the Islanders kept coming, as defenseman Devon Toews set up Lee for the game-winning goal.
Francouz was strong in the Avalanche’s crease. Making his first start since December 27, Francouz made 32 saves, matching the total Varlamov had for the Islanders, to give the Avalanche a chance to tie the game until the final buzzer. The loss drops Francouz to 11-4-1 on the season, but the second-year Avalanche netminder is top-3 in save percentage in the NHL (0.932).
MacKinnon was held off the scoresheet after being named NHL’s First Star of the Week. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, fresh off a three-goal, eight-point week, was scoreless on Monday, despite recording a team-leading seven shots on goal on his former teammate. MacKinnon remains third in the NHL’s scoring race, trailing Edmonton’s Connor McDavid by five points and his teammate Leon Draisaitl by three.
The Avalanche had a goal called back in the second period. Colorado technically had the first goal of the game, scored by defenseman Nikita Zadorov off a wrist shot that beat Varlamov. The Islanders challenged the play for offsides. The long delay resulted in the goal being overturned, which was the correct call.
Colorado closes out its three-game road trip at 5:30 p.m. MST on Tuesday against the New York Rangers.
New York’s rookie netminder Igor Shesterkin is expected to make his career debut for the Rangers against Avs starter Philipp Grubauer.