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Needing a strong start after so frequently falling behind opposing teams early on, the Colorado Avalanche came out of the gate against the visiting Winnipeg Jets flying and racked up five shots on goal early on. The tide was stemmed by the Jets and goaltender Michael Hutchinson, who recorded a 37-save shutout of the Avalanche two weeks ago, and despite being outshot 9-7, held the Avalanche scoreless in a 0-0 period.
An early second-period penalty on Jets star Mark Scheifele put the Avalanche on their second power play of the night. From there, a standard passing play got Mikko Rantanen the puck with space and he walked in and beat Hutchinson cleanly for his first NHL goal. Nathan MacKinnon also recorded his 100th career assist on the play and the Avalanche were up 1-0.
The Avalanche continued pacing play through the first half of the second period and Tyson Barrie walked in and fired an excellent cross-ice pass to Rene Bourque, who deposited the puck into a mostly-empty net, making it 2-0 and giving the Avalanche a ton of momentum.
The lead and good vibes in the building didn’t last. Carl Soderberg was trying to clear the zone to spark a breakout but the puck was knocked down by Nikolaj Ehlers and ultimately landed on the stick of Blake Wheeler, who broke in on Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov with a clean look and beat the Avs netminder to cut the lead in half.
Officiating would play its role in the second period as Matt Duchene took a blatant stick to the face courtesy of Jacob Trouba but as the play went the other direction, Fedor Tyutin would be called for a penalty of his own. Because hockey gods have a cruel sense of humor, the Jets ultimately cashed in on the auspicious power play with a beautiful passing play that resulted in Scheifele beating Varlamov to tie the game at 2-2.
A spirited third period didn’t actually resolve anything and the Avalanche and Jets went to overtime despite Colorado outshooting Winnipeg 8-2 in the third.
The Avalanche created several scoring chances as the 3v3 format kicked in and Wheeler ended up on a clean breakaway. Varlamov turned the golden opportunity away and the puck ended up back in the Jets’ zone when Ehlers made a blind pass back to Hutchinson, who wasn’t ready and the puck got by him, giving the Avalanche the 3-2 victory. Bourque was credited with his second goal of the night.
1. Rene Bourque
2. Blake Wheeler
3. Mikko Rantanen
PLAY OF THE GAME
Rantanen’s first career goal was a long-time coming. He’s been playing some great hockey lately and there was no way he could continue the lack of scoring with the high-quality chances he was helping to create nightly. His first goal was a beauty.
The Ehlers own goal in overtime brought the game to its final score and gave the Avalanche a much-needed second point on the night.
BY THE NUMBERS
Colorado has their third home game in a row at home this Sunday in an early evening tilt. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 p.m. local time.