Jamie McGinn scored with less than two seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime and Peter Mueller provided the lone shootout goal, while Semyon Varlamov remained perfect in shootouts by stopping all three shooters he faced, as the Colorado Avalanche stole two valuable points in the playoff race with a 5-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night at the First Niagara Center.
With Buffalo leading 4-3 in the waning moments of the third period, McGinn -- who scored twice on the night to give him seven goals and nine points in eight games with Colorado since being acquired from the San Jose Sharks at the trade deadline -- was able to find the rebound of a Ryan O'Reilly shot at the goal line and poke it past Ryan Miller and into the net to send the game to extra time.
After the five-minute overtime could not produce a winner, Varlamov stopped Brad Boyes, Jason Pominville, and Tyler Ennis in the shootout to heist the all-important extra point for the Avalanche in the Western Conference standings. After Milan Hejduk was stopped on his attempt, Mueller was able to beat Miller, who saw his personal three-game winning streak snapped, for the only goal of the shootout.
Varlamov is a mind-boggling 8-0 in shootouts this season.
Basically buried two weeks ago as dead and gone, the Avs have since posted a 9-3-0 mark to climb right back into the thick of the race. By virtue of the win, Colorado jumped from the 11th spot to eighth and back into a playoff position in the ultra-tight West.
Buffalo is in a very similar situation where every point is crucial to their postseason hopes, and the loss of a single point in the contest could prove to be devastating to their eventual finish. With the one point, the Sabres increased their total to 75 and moved to within three points of the idle Washington Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot. The loss was particularly bitter, as the squandered 4-3 lead in the closing seconds was the third blown lead of the night.
Rookie Gabriel Landeskog, the second-overall selection by the Avalanche in this past summer's entry draft, added yet another stellar performance and strengthened his standing in the Calder Trophy race for Rookie of the Year honors. The 19-year-old Swede played a strikingly comparable game to a young Peter Forsberg, scoring a goal -- his 20th of the season, which leads all first-year players -- and an assist, while providing a physical presence with eight hits.
Sabres freshman Marcus Foligno scored two goals, giving the son of former Sabres wing Mike Foligno three goals and four points in four games since his emergency recall from the Rochester Americans last week.