By Carter Brooks
Photos by James Carey Lauder
The Colorado Avalanche arrived in Winnipeg as losers of six of their last seven games. They left town as losers of seven of their last eight.
Although finding themselves on the wrong end of a seemingly lopsided 7-4 score, the Avalanche played a decent game Tuesday evening, never really fully out of it, erasing three-goal deficits on multiple occasions.
Following a successful Jets penalty kill, a Colorado defensive breakdown led to Mathieu Perreault’s ninth goal of the season. After collecting a Dmitry Kulikov pass, Brandon Tanev found Perreault breaking free of his coverage. The speedy winger deked out goaltender Philipp Grubauer and slid the puck five-hole just three minutes into the game.
With Tyson Jost in the box for interference, Winnipeg capitalized on the man advantage. Kyle Connor potted his second goal in as many periods, jamming his 15th of the season past Grubauer. Blake Wheeler and power play fill-in Jacob Trouba picked up the helpers on Connor’s opening period tally. Trouba and Josh Morrissey continued to see additional icetime while on the man advantage, due to Dustin Byfuglien’s removal from the lineup.
The Avalanche got on back late in the frame, as captain Gabriel Landeskog perfectly redirected a Tyson Barrie point shot past a screened Connor Hellebuyck. Colorado’s goal came less than a minute into a Patrik Laine tripping minor. The Jets were outshot 2:1 in the opening frame, finishing the period down by seven shots.
The second and third periods provided all sorts of action, as the teams combined for eight more goals, with Winnipeg having the upper hand in potting five of the markers.
Although remaining heavily outshot through the duration of the game, the Jets made their shots count, as Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Andrew Copp an Mark Scheifele found the twine in the final 40 minutes. With their continued pressure, the Avalanche did keep it a close game, often silencing Jets fans with goals immediately after hometown celebrations.
Wheeler collected a shorthanded marker, before Little buried a long wrist shot following some pretty power play passing. Copp scored on a soft backhand goal from the top of the crease, and then Scheifele sealed the deal for the Jets, batting his own rebound off of a breakaway stop into the net, giving Winnipeg a 6-3 lead.
Colorado’s ‘never say die’ mentality kept the visitors in the game to the final buzzer. Nathan MacKinnon’s 26th marker of the season came with just over 3:30 to go and Philiipp Grubauer on the Avs’ bench for the extra attacker.
Winnipeg held off, however, as Jacob Trouba ended it for the home team with an empty net goal with just over a minute to go.
Connor Hellebuyck finished the night with 37 saves on 41 Colorado shots, while Grubauer had a night to forget, only stopping 14 of the 20 pucks shot his way.
The Jets will now travel to Minnesota for their first back-to-back in over a month’s time, as Winnipeg faces off against the Wild Thursday evening in St. Paul, before travelling back home for a Friday night contest against the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Puck drop for both contests is set for 7:00 P.M. central, and the games can be viewed live on TSN3.