Tale of two goaltenders in Avalanche loss to Jets

Jan 8, 2019; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele (55) scores on Colorado Avalanche goalie Phillip Grubauer (31) during the third period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche haven’t gone into Winnipeg and beat the Jets since January of 2016, and after Tuesday night’s meeting between the two, that streak lives on. Colorado lost 7-4 to the Central Division point leaders.

It was the story of two polar opposite nights for the goaltenders. Philipp Grubauer got the start for Colorado and had a night to forget, allowing six goals on 20 shots faced. In the crease for Winnipeg was Connor Hellebuyck, who played a major role in Colorado’s struggles, stopping 37-of-41 Avalanche shots.

The Avs enjoyed a strong start to the game. But on an end-to-end rush that started off of with a Hellebuyck kick save, Mathieu Perrault caught a pass from Brandon Tanev and walked in all alone on Grubauer to finish with a backhand.

At 13:57 into the game Winnipeg’s Kyle Connor made it 2-0 scoring a power-play goal on Colorado’s first penalty of the game.

The Avalanche managed to put one on the board before the period ended on a power-play goal of their own. Much like the goal he scored last Friday against the Rangers, Gabriel Landeskog added his 26th goal of the year deflecting a Tyson Barrie shot from the point into the back of the net.

Shortly after the second-period puck drop, the Avalanche went on the power play again. Considering how dangerous and important to the Avs’ success on the power play had been, this was their best chance to get back in the game. Instead, a Blake Wheeler shorthanded goal found its way past Grubauer giving the Jets a 3-1 lead.

A power-play goal from Bryan Little came about three minutes later and Winnipeg had a firm 4-1 lead.

Up to that point, the Avalanche had much more of an offensive threatening game. However, it felt as though the three-goal deficit would be too much to for Colorado to overcome considering recent performances.

Hellebuyck was having himself a stellar night, but to the Avalanche’s credit, they continued to fight. Carl Soderberg added a goal with 3:50 left in the second period and Ryan Graves would build off of that and put one in of his own on a gutsy wraparound goal just 1:33 later.

A 4-3 deficit seemed manageable for Colorado as they continued to pepper the Jets’ goaltender with shots and quality chances. But the Avalanche took another shot to the heart when Andrew Copp squeaked in a cheeky goal between Grubauer’s five-hole on a shot he would likely love to have back.

Playing in front of a confident goaltender, the Jets skated comfortably throughout the first half of the third period with their two-goal lead. Then, on a defensive lapse from Colorado, Mark Scheifele was all alone on a breakaway. Grubauer made the first save, but with tremendous¬†hand-eye coordination, Scheifele batted the rebound out of mid-air for Winnipeg’s sixth goal of the night.

With an empty Avalanche net and over three minutes remaining on the clock, a Nathan MacKinnon shot from the point deflected off a Landeskog for his second goal of the night.

Winnipeg eventually scored on the empty net and the Avalanche losing streak in Winnipeg was officially still alive. The Avalanche turn around and play another back-to-back as they head to Calgary to face the Flames on Wednesday night.

Calgary is another city that has been rough to the Avalanche, having not won in the Scotiabank Saddledome since a shootout win in March of 2016. Puck drop against the Flames will be at 7:30 p.m. MT.

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