Following a rare two consecutive days off the Colorado Avalanche jetted to Winnipeg to begin a weekend back-to-back series. While this was not the cleanest game the Avalanche played and despite blowing a two-goal third period lead Cale Makar led the team to victory in a 5-4 overtime final.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel got the Avalanche on the board early in this one with his second goal in the last three games. It was a nice transition play from Josh Manson and Alex Newhook which allowed Aube-Kubel to take a sharp angle shot and the puck bounced off a Winnipeg Jets defender at 5:10.
Despite the Avalanche firing 15 shots on goal and earning the game’s first power play the Winnipeg tied the game on a Mark Scheifele score after taking advantage of a two-on-one and then took they the lead as Nicolai Ehlers was the beneficiary of a failed Avalanche breakout. It was a rare 2-1 deficit for the Avalanche after the first 20 minutes of play.
A little bit of momentum started to emerge for the Avalanche to begin the second period and Andre Burakovsky took advantage at 3:55 with his patented gorgeously smooth shot. Cale Makar and Bowen Byram earned assists on the play with a well-executed breakout.
Erik Johnson who had some adventurous moments defensively but was rewarded on the other side of the ice taking a slick little feed from Newhook and then hammered the puck home for the lead at 9:11.
JT Compher received a penalty shot but couldn’t conjure up the birthday magic. The Jets naturally were the beneficiary of a call in return but couldn’t find the back of the net so the second period ended 3-2 in Colorado’s favor.
It seemed that the visitors had finally found enough production to put this game to bed when Nathan MacKinnon put the fourth goal home on a net-front rebound just over four minutes into the third period.
There was just too much time left and a two-goal lead was not enough for the Avalanche to escape disaster while not playing their absolute best as the Jets had other plans. Things started devolving when Scheifele scored his second of the night at 16:25 on a poorly covered rush. The Avalanche had a chance to score an empty net goal several times but Mikko Rantanen took a tripping penalty with 44 seconds left to give the Jets the ammunition they needed. At 19:44 It was Ehlers’ turn to score his second of the night aided by a hobbled Devon Toews who absorbed a big shot block and we were headed to overtime.
It was Colorado’s turn to benefit from a power play early into the extra frame and while they used up almost the entire power play trying to execute fruitless tip plays it was Mikko Rantanen who found Cale Makar on the cross ice seam pass and Makar hammered the puck home to finally give the Avalanche a 5-4 win with his third overtime goal of the season.
Despite what it said on paper it was actually Bowen Byram paired with Cale Makar for the vast majority of this game, 14:16 of even strength time on ice to be exact. They were in a lot of situations with the top line as Bednar seemed to be testing out an offensively driven pair. They were on the ice together for both the Burakovsky and MacKinnon goals and none against. Byram is still recalibrating some of the finer details of his game but is showing how much he is capable of with this type of responsibility early on in his return to the game.
If blowing the lead and the subsequent overtime score is what gets Makar to the 30 goal plateau eventually then maybe a little free hockey was worth it (also assuming Devon Toews is fine after the shot block). Still the Avalanche can’t be happy with blowing the lead and failing to generate much sustained offensive zone pressure. A 42 percent Corsi share for the entire game and an astonishing 31 percent in the third period just simple isn’t good enough. The effort and work ethic wasn’t poor but the Jets played a very inspired game and it was almost enough to grab the win. Something to keep in mind as they try to get through these last 11 games of the regular season.
The second half of said back-to-back tomorrow night at the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. MT.