DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov celebrated his new contract with another stellar performance in net. Varlamov had 35 saves, John Mitchell had a goal and an assist and the Colorado Avalanche edged the Minnesota Wild 5-4 on Thursday night. Matt Duchene had two assists for Colorado, which survived a flurry at the end to get the victory. Ryan OReilly, Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon and Maxime Talbot also scored. It was quite a day for the 25-year-old Varlamov, who also finalized a five-year extension with Colorado that runs through the 2018-19 season. "It was a big day for us. Im sure its a great day for Varly as well," first-year coach Patrick Roy said. "He certainly deserved that contract. Were very happy its a done deal." The Avalanche acquired Varlamov from Washington in July 2011, and the Russian turned in a pair of inconsistent seasons under former coach Joe Sacco. He has flourished under the tutelage of Roy, a Hall of Fame goalie, and goaltender coach Francois Allaire, improving to 27-9-5 with Thursdays win. "Thank God the right people came to the team during the summer," Varlamov said. "Patrick, and especially Francois Allaire. Those guys helped me a lot. They changed my game." Colorado needed every bit of Varlamovs talent against Minnesota. He helped the Avalanche win the season series 4-0-1 and move nine points ahead of the Wild in the Central Division. Colorado has a firm grasp on third place and the final automatic playoff seed in the division. "It was a big game for us. We have three games in hand and were up (nine) points in the standings," Duchene said. "That puts us well ahead and we just have to keep taking care of business." Zach Parise had two goals and two assists and Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville also scored for Minnesota, which went 9-4-1 in January to get into the thick of the post-season race. The Avalanche used a big second period to help cool off the Wild. Mitchell broke a 1-1 tie with his sixth goal of the season at 1:43. Stastny scored his 16th of the season on a rebound midway through the period, and Talbot used the stick of Wild centre Kyle Brodziak to make it 4-1 at 15:26. Brodziak had gathered a rebound in front of goalie Darcy Kuemper when Talbot came in from behind and hit the centres stick to put the puck in the net. "We were so good the first two periods," Roy said. "Offensively this is the best Ive seen our team play. We were cycling the puck, moving it quick. We had tons of chances." A minute later, Niklas Backstrom replaced Kuemper, who had 19 saves. "I let him know it wasnt him," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I did it to try to change the momentum at that point." "Kuemper played a pretty good game even though he got pulled. He made some amazing saves on us," Duchene said. "It could have been 6-, 7-1 if not for him." Backstrom had nine stops the rest of the way, giving the Wild a chance to get back into it. Parises goal at 7:47 of the third made it 4-2. He then assisted on Granlunds goal at 12:51 that made it a one-score game. MacKinnon appeared to seal the win with his 19th of the season at 17:35 but Pominville scored 11 seconds later. Backstrom went off for an extra skater with 1:07 left but the Wild couldnt get the equalizer. "When you get behind the 8-ball like we did, its tough to get back," Pominville said. "They are a good team for a reason." Colorado took a 1-0 lead on OReillys 20th of the season at 4:41 of the first and Parise tied in on the power play 1:35 later. The Avalanche had three power-play chances to break the tie in the first but couldnt capitalize. Brodziak nearly scored a short-handed goal but Varlamov made a save on the odd-man rush. NOTES: Stastny left in the third period with a leg injury and did not return. ... Avalanche RW P.A. Parenteau was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. Parenteau played in three games after missing 10 with a sprained left knee. ... Wild D Jared Spurgeon skated with the team Thursday. He has been on injured reserve since Jan. 4 with a foot injury. Gio Gonzalez Jersey
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. Off-Season Game Plan looks at a Wild team that has a nice mix of proven veterans along with young, inexpensive talent on the rise. When the Wild signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, making a big splash in the summer of 2012, it set the franchise on a path to being more competitive, but a big reason that they have been so competitive is the contributions of young players who still have more to give.Every day leading up to the eve of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, TSN.ca will be previewing one of the eight participating groups. Today, the previews continue with Group H where Eden Hazard and Belgium will try to fight off challenges from Algeria, Russia and Korea Republic in the battle for two places in the Round of 16. With skill both in attack and on defence, Belgium enters the tournament as the favourite to capture Group H. Will their first World Cup appearance since 2002 lead to success or disappointment? Click here for the Belgium team preview After failing to find the net in South AAfrica, Algeria is back in the final, trying to improve on their fourth place, group stage finish in 2010.dddddddddddd Click here for the Algeria team preview Former England boss Fabio Capello leads a Russian squad into Brazil with designs on doing damage in the knockout stage of the tournament. Click here for the Russia team preview Since posting a fourth place finish in 2002, Korea Republic has been trying to get back to the late stage of the World Cup. They will try to use a strong team game to achieve that feat in Brazil. Click here for the Korea Republic team preview Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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