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Recap: Colorado can’t corral game, fall to Jets

The Avs never really showed up all game long, and it cost them.

Colorado Avalanche v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

Colorado didn’t show up in this one and was a part of a whiteout.

Devon Toews put it best in Altitude TV’s postgame show, saying they “handed” the game to the Winnipeg Jets in a 6-2 scoreline Saturday night. For the second time this week, the Colorado Avalanche were outclassed by the Jets and it showed when the final horn blew.

The loss ends this two-game win streak for the Avs and was vastly different from Wednesday night’s dominance over the Buffalo Sabres. There’s a lot for this to work on and adjust, but not a lot of time to do so in this busy stretch of the season.

First Period

Both teams opened with a couple of chances respectively, including Gabe Vilardi’s breakaway shot being snagged by the glove of Ivan Prosvetov. Meanwhile, Bowen Byram from the blue line found the outside of the post.

But, neither team could build much momentum from those chances. They were going through the motions and skating around. But, it would change when the Jets found another gear.

They forced a few saves out of Prosvetov and beat him twice in quick succession. First, Mark Schiefele would move a couple of Avs defenders and dish a nice pass to Vilardi to grab the lead. Then, Winnipeg would take their chance on the power play when Josh Manson threw the puck over the glass, and former Av Vladislav Namestnikov would score right in front.

Even afterward, Colorado still could not answer the bell. They didn’t register a shot for nearly 10 minutes until Valeri Nichushkin drew a slashing penalty. But even then, the Avs didn’t put one shot on Connor Hellebuyck on the power play, leaving lots of work to be done in the middle frame.

Second Period

Colorado had to get to work early in the frame, killing off a Toews high-sticking penalty just eight seconds in. They would do so thanks to Manson sacrificing his body, looking as though he hurt his right arm blocking a shot, but he would remain in the game.

The Avs slowly started getting more chances thanks to Toews and Mikko Rantanen having some good looks on Hellebuyck, but neither of their chances was super threatening. It would eventually hurt them on the other end, as a bad Caleb Jones turnover was jumped on by Alex Iafallo on his backhand.

The Avalanche nearly gave up the fourth goal of the game when Nathan MacKinnon’s dangerous pass across the slot was cut off and then hit off the iron. They were lucky the damage wasn’t worse and still weren’t answering the call at the other end of the ice as they didn’t even have 10 shots on net at the halfway point.

Despite this, they were not pushing the envelope and generating momentum. Despite a big Manson hit on Adam Lowry into his own bench, a lot would need to happen in the final period to get anything out of this game for the Avalanche.

Third Period

The Avs had a chance to make things interesting after Valeri Nichushkin was high-sticked. They would make use of said chance when Jonathan Drouin got the puck off the back wall and put it past a flailing Hellebuyck to cut the lead to two.

Just 1:33 later, Colorado’s chance to get back into it was quickly shot down by Vilardi’s second goal of the game as his backhander in front beat Prosvetov to restore the three-goal lead.

Even with another chance for the Avs on the power play thanks to Nikolaj Ehlers closing his hand over the puck, they could do nothing with it despite a few chances. If the game wasn’t put to bed already, it would be by Nino Niederreiter’s finish on a nice tic-tac-toe play to make it 5-1.

Colorado wouldn’t go out quietly though, as Jack Johnson released a wicked shot from the slot into the top corner past Hellebuyck and cut the lead back to three.

There was a glimmer of hope for the Avs as Rantanen was tripped up by Lowry on a spin move. If the Avalanche could score, they had a slight chance with around five minutes to go. Jared Bednar knew this and pulled Prosvetov in a Patrick Roy-esque move but couldn't capitalize. Winnipeg would make sure to put the game out of reach with Ehlers strolling into the empty net to end the game with a 6-2 final.

Takeaways

This entire game was a slugfest and not good for the Avalanche. The first two periods were downright bad, as they couldn't generate anything going forward. The third period was their best by far, but they could not help themselves defensively. Prosvetov was left out to dry, but then again was not the most confident netminder in the world.

Prosvetov didn’t get much help in front of him, but he also lacked a big star in defense. Cale Makar was a late scratch with a lower-body injury after taking morning skate. Of course, Tomas Tatar was traded to the Seattle Kraken Friday night and was not a part of the team either. While the latter likely wouldn’t have made a big difference, the absence of Makar was noticeable on the backend. Hopefully, it is nothing too major and he can heal up sooner rather than later, but more importantly he feels 100% by the time playoff hockey rolls around.

The lack of confidence and will to get into the game hurt the entire lineup, not just Prosvetov. For the second time this week, they were outclassed by the Jets. Plus, this is the first of a back-to-back for the Avs where they travel home and have to go back through customs and whatnot. It’s far from the ideal back-to-back, but dropping this first game does not help their case for the second game. But, Colorado is known to be good on the second leg of back-to-backs, and with the hunger of this loss, it could work in their favor.

Upcoming

The second half of this back-to-back for the Avalanche takes place less than 24 hours from now back in Denver against the San Jose Sharks. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT.