On a brief stop at home between road games the Colorado Avalanche hosted division foe the Winnipeg Jets for the second time this season. It wasn’t the same as the 7-1 drubbing of the Jets in their January meeting but after another Gabe Landeskog hat trick and a 6-3 final in Colorado’s favor it sure felt like it when the clock struck zeroes.
Winnipeg set the tone just 2:13 into the contest when Kyle Connor scored his 30th goal of the season on a big rebound left by netminder Pavel Francouz. The first period would only degrade from there as Evgeni Svechnikov tipped a puck behind Francouz for the game’s second score at 7:48. The cherry on top was the Avalanche giving up a shorthanded goal on the only power play of the period to Adam Lowry at 16:26. Though the Avalanche managed to put 11 shots on goal only Nazem Kadri hitting the post looked remotely dangerous.
Despite the poor start the Avalanche had renewed energy to start the second frame. Gabe Landeskog snuck in the first goal for the Avalanche at the net front just after a power play had expired and the home team went to work.
Nathan MacKinnon’s frustrations were evident early on but he finally got the look he wanted and placement of his shot in transition was just right for Colorado’s second score at 12:20. Now the Avalanche were officially back in the game only down one and with the momentum on their side.
After another five minutes of hard work and creating chances the Avalanche finally tied the game on Landeskog’s second goal of the evening on a brilliant tip of a Val Nichushkin shot. The second period ended at a 3-3 tie but the Avalanche made significant progress with a 17-7 shot advantage as well.
The Avalanche just kept putting pressure on to begin the third period and then suddenly less than a minute in Andre Burakovsky found the back of the net on his patented smooth as silk shot. It was a long drought for him but Burakovsky picked the perfect time to break the tie and picked up what was eventually the game winning goal. He had been given an opportunity in a lineup shuffle on the top line and it paid off.
A few tense minutes still unfolded as the Avalanche had to kill a Mikko Rantanen delay of game penalty early on in the third period. But then Nathan MacKinnon scored a crafty tip play goal of his own off of a Rantanen shot at 12:13 to put the game away for all intents and purposes with a two goal cushion.
Just for good measure Gabe Landeskog added a sixth goal to the Avalache’s total just a minute later which gave him his fifth career hat trick and his second against Winnipeg in as many games. Landeskog now leads the team with 28 goals in what has been a remarkable season for him. The Avalanche cruised to a 6-3 final which was anything but easy after such a poor start.
This was a game largely won by the effort the Avalanche stars put in to turn the game around. They set the tone in the final 40 minutes and backed it up with some incredible plays to score six unanswered goals. Landeskog’s hat trick was a big highlight but also MacKinnon firing 14 of the team’s 42 shots on net with two goals of his own made a huge difference.
What didn’t work was the fourth line experiment du jour of Darren Helm, Tyson Jost and Kurtis MacDermid didn’t see much action after they were on the ice for the first two Winnipeg goals. With the team firmly in catch up mode also helped keep each of them at five minutes of even strength time on ice.
Pavel Francouz won’t get much credit after a shaky first where he gave up three early goals on 12 shots but after that he shut the door and allowed the Avalanche the opportunity to get back into and eventually take control of this game. The final score reads a blowout but for most of the second and third periods this was a one goal game and Francouz stood tall and made the saves when he needed to the most.
Another midnight trip to take on the Vegas Golden Knights on the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow night at 8pm MT.