As the homestand continues the Colorado Avalanche were hopeful to start a win streak against the visiting divisional foe Winnipeg Jets. It was a competitive match but ultimately Winnipeg capitalized on Colorado’s mistakes and earned a 4-2 win in the Mile High City.
It was a fairly even first period with nine shots on goal for each team and should have ended in a scoreless tie but but the Jets got on the board with two seconds left in the period on a failed clear by Devon Toews. Adam Lowry was the recipient of the gift as he put his team up after twenty minutes of play. The Avalanche also had another fruitless power play in the period which they at least kept in the offensive zone for the whole two minutes but came up empty.
The Avalanche decided to double down on their mistakes to start the second period as the top line and pair didn’t handle their defensive assignments well and Kyle Connor got a puck past Alexandar Georgiev in the first 32 seconds of play. However, before the game got out of hand Nathan MacKinnon executed a terrific individual effort to score a backhand goal at 2:30 to cut the Jets lead in half.
A second power play gave the home team a bit of life when they finally let the second unit on the ice and as a result gave a couple shifts of momentum following the man advantage. Unfortunately it would be Winnipeg who scored next with Josh Morrissey scoring from the point at 15:13 as Georgiev was screened by his own defense.
Finally it was Colorado’s turn for a last minute goal as MacKinnon carried the puck all the way to the net and Joel Kiviranta was uncovered and in great position for a no look pass from MacKinnon. The goal was not immediately apparent as the video had to be checked at the whistle and the good goal was confirmed to reduce Winnipeg’s lead to 3-2.
For the final 20 minutes of play the Avalanche were back within striking distance and had a glorious opportunity when they received a 5-on-3 power play for just over 40 seconds and then proceeded to do nothing with it. The Jets are a good defensive team with excellent goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck and didn’t give Colorado many opportunities after that. An empty net goal would go their way to Connor after a Jonathan Drouin fumble and the game ended as a 4-2 defeat.
It was overall a competitive game against a good team now two points behind Colorado in the standings so the effort was there in this game. The Avalanche had their opportunities to even the game even after a couple big mistakes. Winnipeg looked more cohesive within their structure and limited their mistakes more. Nathan MacKinnon did what he could tonight but the no-shows by Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar, who was at least back in the lineup but perhaps too soon, didn’t help matters. With a lineup as top-heavy as Colorado’s those two will need to get going again to bank some wins before the holidays.
It feels like a broken record at times but the power play is just not good enough right now. It will naturally ebb and flow with the talent the Avalanche possess but it’s becoming very stagnant and predictable, particularly on the first unit. Val Nichushkin still missing due to illness doesn’t help but he’s also not a staple on the top power play either. The momentum that the second unit generated should be a sign it is time to mix things up. Teams have seen Colorado’s power play set up for years now and are attacking it much more for shorthanded chances against as well.
Sam Malinski took Caleb Jones’ spot in the lineup tonight on the third pair and did well enough to earn his first career NHL point on MacKinnon’s goal. He was partly responsible for the Jets third goal so it is still a work in progress but encouraging that he is fitting into the team and is a good depth option on the back end.
Another home game against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. MT on Saturday, December 9th.