The skid continues for the Colorado Avalanche after another rough start to the game, this time in Winnipeg against the Jets. Colorado lost its fifth game in a row and sixth in seven games as the Jets won 5-2, and controlled from the get-go.
The one sign of life for the Avalanche came from Semyon Varlamov in the first period. The veteran goaltender made a big sliding save on a Jets two-on-oh and it felt like the Colorado goaltender was going to have one of those Vezina-caliber nights. However, a Patrik Nemeth delay of game penalty was given at 9:52 in and after just 13 seconds of power-play time, Winnipeg scored its first goal of the night.
Just minutes later, Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele put a sharp-angle one-time shot past Varlamov short side on a save he should have had, and suddenly, the confidence in Varlamov’s Vezina-caliber night, and the whole team for that matter, was thrown to the wind.
The Avs only generated four shots on net in the first and while Winnipeg only had five, Colorado trailed 2-0 after the first. Considering the Avalanche haven’t won a game in Winnipeg since January 2016, there wasn’t much hope the team would pull what they did against Ottawa just two weeks ago when they came back from a two-goal deficit after the first.
The second period ended with the same 2-0 scores but the Avs had a handful of odd-man, as well as three power-play chances that they didn’t capitalize on. They were able to put more threatening shots on net, including a hit post by Mikko Rantanen, but ultimately were not able to get on the scoreboard in the second period, which is traditionally their best period so far this year.
The Avalanche were finally able to crack Connor Hellebuyck 2:26 into the third period when Erik Johnson picked up a loose puck on the boards and walked in, putting the shot over Hellebuyck’s left shoulder as he hugged the post. With the score at 2-1, the Avs found a spark and pushed to tie the game.
Shortly after the Avs goal, Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers found themselves on a two-on-one as the Avalanche gave up an ugly turnover by their bench and Ehler’s buried Winnipeg’s third goal of the night.
The Avalanche didn’t let Ehlers’ goal deflate them and when Tyson Jost scored a much-needed goal in his first game back from injury and gave the Avs some late hope sitting at 3-2 with over half of the third period to go. The goal was Jost’s second of the year and first since October 11 in Buffalo.
Despite there still being plenty of time clock, the Avalanche had nothing left in their bag of tricks and the game was sealed when Patrick Laine scored a power-play goal on a one-timer making it 4-2. Blake Wheeler later added an empty-netter and Colorado continues to be winless in Winnipeg.
The Avalanche will stay in Canada, where they have lost all three contests they’ve had up there so far, and face the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday evening at 7:30 MST. Certainly a winnable game for Colorado that could help build some confidence before facing the Boston Bruins on Wednesday at home.