For the second straight game, the Colorado Avalanche were led to victory by an unexpected hero. Thursday night it was Reto Berra, who turned away a season-high 41 shots as the Avs beat the Winnipeg Jets 1-0 in a shootout on Thursday night in Denver. Berra added saves on both shootout attempts he faced to complete his first career NHL shutout.

Berra has taken advantage of the opportunity head coach Patrick Roy is giving him down the stretch. The Swiss goalie started five of the last nine games – collecting three wins with a 1.44 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage in that span.

The Jets (42-26-13) came into the night desperate for a win, but backed into the playoffs anyway with the shootout loss.

Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention, the Avalanche (38-31-12) beat a playoff-bound for the third time in their last four games. It was the 10th shootout win of the season for the Avs.

Colorado improved to 2-2-1 against Winnipeg in the fifth and final meeting of the season between the clubs.

Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec came into the game as the league’s hottest goalie. The 27-year-old netminder registered back-to-back shutouts on the road against the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild in his previous two games. The Avalanche only managed 21 shots on Pavelec in regulation and overtime.

Colorado only needed two rounds to secure victory in the shootout. Ryan O’Reilly beat Pavelec with a silky backhander, and then Matt Duchene dangled the goalie and slid the puck five hole to make it a two-goal advantage. Berra turned away attempts by Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd.

Wheeler had golden opportunities to end the game at the end of regulation and overtime as well. Berra made a huge pad save on a Wheeler breakaway in the closing seconds of the third period. Wheeler got loose again at the end of overtime, but couldn’t tuck his wrap-around in on Berra. Ryan O’Reilly was stopped on a breakaway in overtime as well.

The Avalanche penalty kill went 4-for-4 in the winning effort. The Jets had to kill off just one Avalanche penalty.

Colorado Defenseman Brad Stuart left the contest with a leg injury in the opening period.

“Our players deserve a lot of credit,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “ I am very proud of them and the way that they’ve handled the situation. It would be very easy for them to shut down. The fact that guys have been following our captain, to me, it means a lot. This is a special group. I told you all year long that they care and they want to do well. And they just showed exactly that in those two games.”

The Avalanche will wrap up their disappointing season when the Chicago Blackhawks visit Pepsi Center on Saturday.

Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.

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