DENVER — The low-key Carl Soderberg was thinking one overriding thought on his shootout attempt: “A great opportunity to get the game done,” he said.
Soderberg scored in the sixth round of the shootout, Semyon Varlamov came up with big saves all night long and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Wednesday.
Soderberg knocked in the winner off the glove of Jacob Markstrom as the Avalanche improved to 2-12 in games beyond regulation.
Another memorable moment in what’s been a career-best goal scoring season for Soderberg.
“He deserves all the opportunities he’s getting,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s playing a big man’s game and is helping us in a lot of different ways on a nightly basis, a very consistent player for us.”
Right after Soderberg’s goal, Markstrom dropped his head. He thought he had it.
“I got my glove back and it goes off my glove and it goes crossbar and just inside the post,” Markstrom explained. “That’s frustrating.”
Varlamov made 30 saves through overtime and five more in the shootout. He’s now 30-15 over his career in shootouts with a .750 save percentage.
Mikko Rantanen had a power-play goal and Nathan MacKinnon added his 33rd goal of the season to tie captain Gabriel Landeskog for the team lead. The Avalanche have gone 5-0-1 over their last six games to climb back into the thick of the playoff chase.
“All the teams around us, they’re not just going to sleep, they’re going to continue to play hard,” Varlamov said. “Everybody’s winning, so we’ve got to keep winning games.”
Trailing 2-1 after the first period, Josh Leivo tied the game with 3:02 remaining in regulation on a wrist shot. Antoine Roussel also scored for the Canucks.
Tanner Pearson made his debut with the team after being acquired Monday from Pittsburgh. He nearly had the winner in OT on a tip-in, but the officials ruled Varlamov made the save and was impaired by Pearson to defend the net. The play was upheld on review.
“It was a goal. I finished the goal,” Pearson said. “My stick moved the goalie to knock the puck loose. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Markstrom kept Vancouver close by turning back 43 shots, including a huge glove save early in overtime.
“We’re seeing a guy mature in front of our eyes, really,” Green said.
After breaking them up for a few games, the Avalanche reassembled their top line of Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog, who had an assist on Rantanen’s goal. The Avalanche improved to 23-5-5 when each of them has a point.
The opening period didn’t start well for Rantanen with the right winger taking a high-stick penalty 11 seconds into the game. But it certainly ended well as he scored with 1:34 remaining in the first to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. Rantanen’s 27th goal of the season was set up on a play by Landeskog, who stole the puck from Markus Granlund, moved into the zone and dished it over to Rantanen.
MacKinnon staked Colorado a 1-0 lead that lasted all of 54 seconds. Roussel quickly countered by tipping in a shot in the middle of traffic.
“We were buzzing,” MacKinnon said. “That goalie (Markstrom) played awesome. He always plays good against us. He’s just a good goalie in general.”