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Losers of six of their last seven games coming into tonight, the Colorado Avalanche rolled into Winnipeg to take on a Jets team they’ve rarely beaten on the road the last several seasons. Things got off to an extremely slow start for both teams as the Jets looked to knock the rust off after sitting for a handful of days and the Avalanche haven’t played a good game in two weeks.
The glacial first half of the first period gave way to the kind of dominance the Jets have come to expect against Colorado, especially in Winnipeg, as the Jets began putting real pressure on the Avalanche and Patrik Nemeth’s easily avoidable delay of game penalty naturally had an impact. The Jets enjoyed exactly eight seconds of power play time before Kyle Connor was able to bang home a bouncing puck that had worked its way through Colorado’s penalty killers to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.
The one-goal lead did not stay for long as Mark Scheifele blasted home a one-timer from near the goal line that inexplicably found its way through Semyon Varlamov, who was otherwise sharp in a first period that saw him under siege. The 2-0 lead for the Jets could have easily been three or four goals but Varlamov stood tall despite the very questionable second goal.
Colorado had a much stronger second period overall as they tightened the screws defensively but were unable to generate anything meaningful on offense despite eventually earning a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal in the period. Colorado entered the third period trailing by two goals and looking as lethargic as they have all year.
Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson finally found the back of the net for the first time this season when he beat Connor Hellebuyck just 2:26 into the final frame to cut the Winnipeg lead in half and give Colorado some serious life. That life didn’t last long when Nathan MacKinnon made an absolutely atrocious, lazy, and unforgivable turnover to Blake Wheeler, who suddenly found himself with the puck and in the easiest odd-man rush of his life. Wheeler made no mistake as he patiently waited for Nemeth to take himself out of the play Varlamov to commit to the shot and then passed it gently through the crease to a waiting Nikolaj Ehlers, who scored to make it 3-1.
Instead of completely folding, however, the Avalanche pushed back with a strong effort. An excellent sequence started by Tyson Barrie making a perfect 60-foot pass to Alexander Kerfoot ended with Kerfoot sliding the puck into the middle to an attacking Tyson Jost, who one-timed the puck home for his second goal of the year in his first game back from his recent head injury.
The 3-2 lead gave the Avalanche even more life as they continued pushing but Hellebuyck found ways to stave off the Colorado attack before Sheldon Dries, who blew a shorthanded breakaway earlier in the game, took a careless penalty in taking down Mathiew Perreault.
Clearly annoyed with how long it took them to score on the power play earlier, the Jets cut their goal-scoring time to seven seconds as Patrik Laine fired a one-timer from his spot past Varlamov and gave the Jets the cushion they needed at 4-2.
An empty-net goal by Blake Wheeler brought the game to its final score of 5-2 and gave Wheeler his fifth point of the night, the second player in seven days to have a five-point night against the Avalanche (Elias Pettersson did it for Vancouver). The loss was Colorado’s fifth straight.