DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche didn’t need a shootout to get off to their best start in franchise history.
When they faced one, they were successful once again.
Ryan O’Reilly scored the only goal in the shootout, Semyon Varlamov stopped 35 shots and the Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Saturday night.
Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon had a goal apiece to help the Avalanche sweep the home-and-home series with the Wild.
“It was a good couple games against Minny, they obviously play a pretty tough game,” MacKinnon said. “Down low, they’re tough to defend. It’s always nice to get on the board a little bit, but obviously getting two wins is huge for us.”
Colorado and the New York Rangers were the only teams to yet have a game decided in a shootout before Saturday.
“(I was) nervous, same as usually,” Varlamov said. “Nobody, none of the goalies, nobody likes the shootouts.”
John Mitchell added two assists for Colorado, which won a rare penalty-free game.
Mikko Koivu and Matt Cooke scored goals and Josh Harding stopped 23 shots for the Wild.
The Avalanche looked as if they would win comfortably despite Minnesota carrying the play when Cooke spoiled the shutout bid with 3:27 left.
“I think we had five or six grade-A chances in the first period alone and sometimes that’s frustrating,” Cooke said. “But it’s up to us to just try to keep each other positive and the fact that we’re getting those scoring opportunities is a good thing. We just need to stay on it.”
Harding came off for an extra skater in the final minute, and Koivu beat Varlamov on a slap shot with six seconds left to send the game into overtime.
“Nobody wants to give up a goal with 4 seconds left,” Varlamov said. “The third period we sat back the last 10 minutes and they started to get more chances around the net and that is why we gave up two goals. It is what it is. We were able to get two points.”
Neither team could score in the extra period, sending the Avalanche to their first shootout of the season.
Despite never having competed in an NHL shootout — or coaching in one — coach Patrick Roy didn’t hesitate in picking his shooters. He chose the only players to score in one in the team’s last practice.
“It made it kind of easy,” Roy said.
Rangers 5, Canucks 2
In New York, Chris Kreider scored three goals, and Rick Nash added a goal and two assists as the Rangers spoiled the return of former coach John Tortorella.
David Booth and Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver.
Bruins 3, Blue Jackets 1
In Boston, Milan Lucic scored a pair of goals and Patrice Bergeron added another, lifting the Bruins to a victory.
David Krejci added two assists for Eastern Conference-leading Boston, which is 10-2-2 in its past 14 games.
Penguins 5, Panthers 1
In Sunrise, Florida, Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and had three assists to lift Pittsburgh over the Panthers.
Jussi Jokinen, James Neal, Chris Kunitz and Joe Vitale also scored goals for the Penguins, who won their third straight game. Jeff Zatkoff stopped 39 shots, including 15 in the first period.
Devils 1, Sabres 0 (OT)
In Newark, New Jersey, Steve Bernier scored at 4:19 of overtime and Cory Schneider made 15 saves.
Schneider has won back-to-back games after beating Carolina on Friday night.
Sharks 4, Ducks 3 (SO)
In San Jose, Joe Pavelski scored in the shootout and Antti Niemi stopped all three attempts to help the Sharks beat Anaheim.
The Ducks have lost six of their past seven road games.
Capitals 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
In Uniondale, New York, Alexander Ovechkin scored at 2:07 of overtime to lift Washington.
Ovechkin’s goal came after a short-handed goal by Nicklas Backstrom tied the score with 49 seconds left in the third period.
Canadiens 4, Maple Leafs 2
In Montreal, Max Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist.
Flyers 3, Predators 2 (SO)
In Nashville, Vincent Lecavalier scored the only goal in the shootout.
Flames 2, Kings 1
In Los Angeles, Michael Cammalleri scored with 23 seconds remaining.
Blackhawks 5, Coyotes 2
In Glendale, Arizona, Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist in a dominant first period.