March 19, 2019

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Avalanche buried by Jets' depth in 7-4 shootout

Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' Mathieu Perreault celebrates his goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

It was billed as a battle of two of the best lines in hockey — and both came to play in a big way. But in the end the Winnipeg Jets' depth proved superior to that of the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night in a 7-4 victory at Bell MTS Place.

The Jets got goals from seven players and all four lines in nearly every conceivable situation to win their second straight game over a divisional rival trying to catch them in the standings. Winnipeg improved to 27-13-2 on the season and moves back into first place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Nashville Predators. Colorado dropped to 20-15-8, eight points back of the Jets.

Winnipeg scored three times while playing five-on-five, three times on the power play and once short-handed despite firing just 21 shots at Avalanche goatender Philipp Grubauer. Colorado peppered Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck with 41 shots.

"I guess we were opportunistic," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. “I think we like what we can do offensively. So there’s gonna be nights where we pour it on and their goalie plays well. And there’s going to be nights where we get a few (shots) and make the most of our chances."

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It was billed as a battle of two of the best lines in hockey — and both came to play in a big way. But in the end the Winnipeg Jets' depth proved superior to that of the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night in a 7-4 victory at Bell MTS Place.

The Jets got goals from seven players and all four lines in nearly every conceivable situation to win their second straight game over a divisional rival trying to catch them in the standings. Winnipeg improved to 27-13-2 on the season and moves back into first place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Nashville Predators. Colorado dropped to 20-15-8, eight points back of the Jets.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck saves a deflection by Colorado Avalanche's Carl Soderberg  during the first period.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck saves a deflection by Colorado Avalanche's Carl Soderberg during the first period.

Winnipeg scored three times while playing five-on-five, three times on the power play and once short-handed despite firing just 21 shots at Avalanche goatender Philipp Grubauer. Colorado peppered Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck with 41 shots.

"I guess we were opportunistic," said Jets captain Blake Wheeler. "I think we like what we can do offensively. So there’s gonna be nights where we pour it on and their goalie plays well. And there’s going to be nights where we get a few (shots) and make the most of our chances."

Winnipeg's top line combined for eight points. Wheeler had a goal and three assists, Mark Scheifele had a goal and two helpers, and Kyle Connor scored for a second straight game.

"We love playing with each other and we had a few games there where things weren’t going in for us, so it was nice to see a few go in," said Scheifele, who doesn't mind playing in what might be best described as high-event hockey.

"That was pretty fun. I’m sure the fans loved it. I’m good with it," he said.

The big story was the Jets' secondary offence, which the Avalanche couldn't match. Third-liner Mathieu Perreault opened the scoring on a breakaway 3:05 into the game, second-line centre Bryan Little lit the lamp for a second straight game, fourth-line centre Andrew Copp scored early in the third and defenceman Jacob Trouba had an empty-net goal to go along with two assists. Defenceman Tyler Myers also had two helpers.

"It’s big to see different goals from different guys. We look for that every night," said Scheifele.

Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry lands one to the face of Colorado Avalanche's Matt Calvert as Jets' Joe Morrow  looks on during the second period.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg Jets' Adam Lowry lands one to the face of Colorado Avalanche's Matt Calvert as Jets' Joe Morrow looks on during the second period.

Colorado's top trio of Gabriel Landeskog (two goals), Nathan MacKinnon (two assists) and and Mikko Rantanen (one assist) combined for five points. Carl Soderberg and Ryan Graves had the other Avalanche goals.

"There were lots of plays to be made at times that got made. Skilled players will do that. It kind of ebbed and flowed between a choppy transition game where the puck didn’t move particularly easily, and then it was just wide open," said Jets head coach Paul Maurice.

The Jets struck for the first two goals, with Perreault and Connor connecting in the opening period. Landeskog got one back on the power play late in the period, but then Wheeler scored with the Jets short-handed and Little added a power-play goal early in the second for a 4-1 lead.

Colorado came on strong, scoring twice in a 93-second span late in the period to make it 4-3. They began the final frame with a power play. Not only did the Jets kill it off, but Copp scored his third of the season a couple minutes later to restore some breathing room. That was a key change in momentum, according to Maurice.

"That’s really important. You’re not feeling very good in your locker room between the second and third. It’s not the mistakes that change the momentum, it’s what you do after momentum has changed. I really believe that. They deserved to be 4-3 after two, (the Avalanche) capitalized on a couple of mistakes, but we came out right and put ourselves back in a strong position," said Maurice.

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele knocks his own rebound out of the air and into the back of the net behind Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer during the third period Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets' Mark Scheifele knocks his own rebound out of the air and into the back of the net behind Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer during the third period Tuesday.

Scheifele made it 6-3 midway through the third, but Landeskog brought the visitors back within two before Trouba iced it with the empty-netter, giving him five points in the last two games.

"Those things just kind of come. You chip a puck up to Wheels and Wheels and Scheif make a great play. That's not really anything I did special. Same thing on the power play, so they come when they come. Just make the play that's the correct play, don't try to do anything too much and they come when they come," Trouba said of the point production.

He and partner Josh Morrissey saw plenty of the MacKinnon-Landeskog-Rantanen line, especially with Dustin Byfuglien out with a lower-body injury.

"They kind of have a different element than any other line. It's similar to play against Scheifs and Wheels in practice, where they can control the puck down low and they're hard to take the puck from on the boards. They find each other very quickly. It doesn't take much space to get open and they get a shot off," said Trouba.

"That's the closest line that I think I've played against that's close to what Wheels and Scheif bring to the table, so getting to play against them in practice definitely helps you out in those situations."

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Copp gets a good look at the skate of Colorado Avalanche's Ryan Graves behind the net during some physical play in the first period Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/TREVOR HAGAN

Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Copp gets a good look at the skate of Colorado Avalanche's Ryan Graves behind the net during some physical play in the first period Tuesday.

Some had worried about Winnipeg's recent scoring woes, which included scoring just seven goals over a five-game span prior to Sunday's 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars. But scoring a dozen in the past two games should put any concerns to rest.

"I don’t worry about any individual player scoring or not scoring," said Maurice. "My concern is the style of offence that we had. You get a game like (Tuesday) where there’s breakaways and short-handed goals and your power play clicks a bit... I liked our offensive game against Dallas better because I understood it. You can replicate that game. You can do that night after night. You may not score five but you can do that night after night. If it’s going to be an open game, we’re going to get our chances. But it’s not something you can count on in the Western Conference."

Translation: while Scheifele and his linemates may have enjoyed this wide-open affair, it's not the style the Jets should get used to seeing as they head into the second half of the regular season and push towards the playoffs.

mike.mcintyre@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Reporter

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.

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History

Updated on Tuesday, January 8, 2019 at 11:30 PM CST: Full write through

12:19 AM: Adds photos

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