Varlamov returns, leads Avalanche past Blues 5-0

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DENVER (AP) — Semyon Varlamov showed he is still the top goalie for the Colorado Avalanche.

Varlamov returned from an injury and stopped 26 shots in his second shutout of the season, leading the Avalanche past the slumping St. Louis Blues 5-0 on Tuesday night.

Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Ryan O'Reilly each had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which has won three in a row and is 4-0-2 in its last six games. The Avalanche (13-13-8) reached .500 for the first time this season.

Varlamov missed six straight games with a groin injury before returning Tuesday. Rookie goalie Calvin Pickard played well during a three-game road trip that ended with a 2-1 victory in Detroit on Sunday. His .939 save percentage made a case for him to remain in net, but Varlamov, who set a franchise record with 41 wins last season, had a statement game against St. Louis.

"I feel well. The doctors did a great job for me," he said. "I felt good, I'm healthy and ready to go."

Varlamov faced only seven shots in the first period and eight halfway through the game. But he made 12 saves in the third to complete his 15th career shutout.

"It does feel good," Varlamov said. "We played a real solid game the whole 60 minutes. It is much easier to play when the guys score lots of goals."

Jake Allen allowed five goals on 31 shots before being replaced by Martin Brodeur to start the third period for the Blues, who have lost three straight.

St. Louis has given up 14 goals during the skid.

"Can't win playing like this," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We'll see if this is a wake-up call for us."

The Avalanche went ahead 1-0 on Erik Johnson's ninth goal of the season and fifth in five games. Johnson's shot from the point got through traffic and deflected off the far post at 15:02 of the first.

Fellow defenseman Zach Redmond made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 18:45. It was his fourth of the season.

Tanguay's 12th goal 5:49 into the second gave Colorado a 3-0 lead. Tanguay scored when Iginla's shot went off his body, then bounced off Allen's back and into the net.

St. Louis, held to eight shots through the 10-minute mark of the second period, started to generate chances but Varlamov stopped six shots to keep the Blues scoreless.

"Our goaltending has been really, really good," Iginla said. "Picks came in and did a phenomenal job, and we're very excited to get (Varlamov) back feeling good. He's a big part of the team. He made some big stops, some point-blank chances."

Colorado then put it away with two goals in a span of 40 seconds. O'Reilly got the first one on the power play and Iginla made it 5-0 with his eighth of the season at 17:27 of the second.

"They kicked our butts in every facet of the game for the first 40 minutes," Blues captain David Backes said. "We deserved to be down 5-0. We didn't bring our game. They ramped it up a notch from the last time we saw them and the result is pretty appropriate."

NOTES: Avalanche LW Patrick Bordeleau is expected to miss eight to 10 weeks after breaking his knee in Saturday's win at Buffalo. ... St. Louis D Alex Pietrangelo had his seven-game point streak stopped. ... Colorado D Brad Stuart had two assists.

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