Varlamov shines as Avalanche smother Rangers

Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov was in spectacular form as he resisted almost everything the New York Rangers could throw at him as the Avalanche battled to a 3-1 road win at Madison Square Garden.

Varlamov made 21 saves after the visitors grabbed a 2-1 lead midway through the second period and was particularly effective during the Rangers five powerplay opportunities, making 10 of his 41 stops in total while the Avalanche were shorthanded.

"Varly (Varlamov) played excellent tonight. He was great in there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco told reporters.

"You look at the shot discrepancy (42-20) and it's pretty easy to figure out. Five powerplays, 10 minutes of killing penalties. I thought five-on-five, if we could've played the game more on that level, it would've been a little closer as far as that goes.

"The bottom line is we finished off a great road trip tonight."

Colorado (39-30-5) has won six of their last eight games to move into playoff contention, holding seventh place in the Western Conference.

"If we come out and play like that, more often than not, we're going to come out with a win," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said.

"We've got to do the same on Monday (against the New Jersey Devils). The Penguins are creeping up."

Norwegian Mats Zuccarelo opened the scoring for New York, redirecting a shot by Dan Girardi halfway through the opening period, before Matt Hunwick responded for the Avalanche less than five minutes later.

Swedish rookie Gabriel Landeskog scored the eventual game-winner with a tip-in midway through the second period and Paul Stastny secured the win with an empty-net marker in the final minute.

(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by John O'Brien)