MacKinnon, Makar help depleted Avs squad bury Jets 4-0

Colorado's third-string goalie makes 40 saves in first-ever NHL game


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Beware the wounded animal. Not to mention the unheralded goalie pressed into making his NHL debut. 

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/11/2019 (1110 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Beware the wounded animal. Not to mention the unheralded goalie pressed into making his NHL debut. 

The Winnipeg Jets learned those lessons the hard way Tuesday at Bell MTS Place, dropping a 4-0 decision to an injury-ravaged Colorado Avalanche team that showed plenty of game despite their many challenges. 

The Avalanche began the night without top-line forwards Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, defenceman Nikita Zadorov and starting goalie Philipp Grubauer. They took another hit just 31 seconds into the game when backup netminder Pavel Francouz was bowled over by Jets forward Mark Scheifele, who was cutting hard to the net and had no room to move. 

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Colorado Avalanche goaltender Adam Werner celebrates with Erik Johnson and teammates following their 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets, in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Francouz’s head slammed hard against the ice, and he was down for some time before being helped off the ice and straight to the room for concussion protocol. That meant the keys to the crease were turned over to 22-year-old rookie Adam Werner, the third-stringer in the organization who had just nine AHL games under his belt — and not a second of NHL service time. 

It turned out to be a night to remember for the Swedish goalie, who didn’t seem rattled by the big stage and finished with 40 saves for the shared shutout with Francouz, who didn’t face a shot before he was knocked out of the game. It’s the first time the Jets have been blanked this season. It’s also their first loss of the season against a Central Division opponent, after previous victories against the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars.

“I know he hasn’t played a whole lot of hockey, but he’s a goalie. We gave him the opportunity to make saves, and he did,” said Jets head coach Paul Maurice. “What’s the final (shots) number, 40-24? (Actually 40-25) We got beat by four goals, so we’re not bragging that we dominated the game. I didn’t feel that way. Their guy made a bunch of good saves. We had a bunch of good chances that didn’t go for us.”

Winnipeg falls to 10-8-1 on the season, suffering their first regulation defeat in the past six games (4-1-1). Colorado improves to 11-5-2 and has won three straight. 

“It was a frustrating game. It just felt like we were right there, and the puck just kinda didn’t go our way a couple times. We had a lot of chances. Give him credit, their goalie made a lot of big saves,” said Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey. “I think we’re playing really good hockey, our record shows that over the last little while. It’s a tough league going in. These are the ones where you feel like you do a lot of good things and then you end up with nothing to show for it, nothing on the board. Frustrating game, but we have to put it behind us.”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele collides with Colorado Avalanche starting goaltender Pavel Francouz during the first period Tuesday. Francouz would the leave the game due to injury.

With Werner standing tall betwen the pipes, rookie sensation Cale Makar and the great Nathan MacKinnon gave Colorado more than enough offence.

Makar ripped a shot past Connor Hellebuyck with 59 seconds left in the first period, a few minutes after ringing a shot off the post. The 21-year-old defenceman is the early favourite for the Calder Trophy, now with 18 points in 18 games (five goals, 13 assists), and it might not be long until he’s working his way into the Norris Trophy conversation as the league’s best blue-liner.

After that it became the MacKinnon show. The speedy centreman had a breakaway in the second period, hitting the crossbar. But he made no mistake on his subsequent chances, including burying a shot just 18 seconds into the final frame.

“You give one up right away there in the third. You’d like to sustain some pressure and give yourself a chance to come back from a one-goal game. We’ve been good about that all year, we’ve come back a number of times. They just had the horseshoe in it (Tuesday night),” said Jets captain Blake Wheeler.

MacKinnon added an insurance marker at 7:13 after he caught the Jets on yet another poor line change and made them pay on yet another breakaway. He is now up to a team-leading 11 goals (and 24 points), showing he’s more than capable of still being an offensive force even without his normal wingers Landeskog and Rantanen. 

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets' Josh Morrissey battles for the puck with Colorado Avalanche's Tyson Jost during the first period.

“Obviously he creates chances with that speed. First goal, cuts back, hits the defencemen and the rest is history. Obviously the breakaway goal was self-explanatory. It’s a lot like playing against (Edmonton Oilers centreman Connor) McDavid, he comes underneath on the rush and just seems to find a way to be in the right place at the right time, and at full speed,” said Morrissey.

Joonas Donskoi finished off the scoring with a power-play goal late in the third period with Wheeler in the box, snapping a Jets run of 10 straight successful penalty kills for what had been the league’s worst PK unit until a couple weeks ago. 

“I guess at a certain point of time you’ll give up one. I thought for the most part we did good job on the penalty kill. They got a rebound and chipped it in. They’ve got one more guy than we do. They’re going to get those looks and they made it count,” said Wheeler. 

The Jets continued an alarming trend of trailing after 40 minutes, having now done that in 11 of their 19 games this season. The Jets are 5-6-0 in those contests. They finished the homestand at 2-1-1. 

“We don’t come home and just blow teams away anymore. It’s still just as much of grind as it is on the road. I think it’s a good thing. We’ve stayed in the game. We’ve stayed in the fight. I thought the bulk of our game was really good. The score wasn’t really indicative of it. You move on and look to have a good road trip,” said Wheeler.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Winnipeg Jets' Joona Luoto is checked into the boards by Colorado Avalanche's Valeri Nichushkin during the second period.

Winnipeg now hits the road for four straight games, beginning Thursday night in Sunrise when they take on the Florida Panthers. Then it’s on to stops in Tampa Bay, Nashville and Dallas.

“Two years of being an absolutely dominant home team, and I’m not sure we can expect that, but that’s fine. Because we’ve been pretty tight and pretty good on the road. We’re going to have to scratch and claw wherever the puck’s dropped. We’re going to have to go a little harder than we did (Tuesday night). But we’ve had some good hockey here,” said Maurice.

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade Colorado Avalanche's Tyson Jost, left, and Andre Burakovsky defend against Winnipeg Jets' Kyle Connor during second the period in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.


Updated on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 9:56 PM CST: Adds photos

Updated on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:12 PM CST: Adds goalie photos

Updated on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:36 PM CST: Updates deck

Updated on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 10:55 PM CST: Updates photos

Updated on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 12:23 AM CST: Full write through.

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