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Recap: Avs put the Central within reach with a gutsy win over Winnipeg

It was far from their best performance, but the Avs got the win.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche came into tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets in as good of shape as they could hope for given the relentless injury bug in their locker room, and the brutal news about their captain Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado’s point against Edmonton on Tuesday combined with Winnipeg’s win over Minnesota that night created a perfect storm for the Avalanche. It guaranteed Colorado home ice against the Wild in the first round at worst, it provided them with an opportunity to win the division tonight (should Dallas lose in regulation) while still keeping their fate in their own hands with a win, and it created a lot of incentive for the Jets to rest players tonight because their playoff position was locked in. Colorado dodged all-world goaltender Connor Hellebuyck tonight, as well as a litany of key Jets players.

First Period

The Avs came out a bit deflated and looked like a team who recently learned that their captain was not returning to the ice any time soon this year or possibly next. The Jets were playing hard with their limited roster, but it was this year’s Avalanche Cinderella story who broke the ice to start, as Alex Newhook slid a nice pocket pass to Lars Eller in the slot and the puck found its way to Denis Malgin’s stick.

The only other notable event from the first period was when Andrew Cogliano went hard into the boards, and he was clearly favoring his shoulder on his way to the locker room and he didn’t return.

Second Period

The Avs finished the first a bit listless, and like the Ducks game a week ago, the Avs let the middle of the game get away from them. After creating 71 percent of expected goals at 5-on-5 in the first period, the Avs accounted for just 40 percent in the second, as Winnipeg took control early with an Axel Johnsson-Fjallby goal.

The Jets continued to drive the play all period, and just when it looked like the Avalanche would get a reprieve with a power play towards the end of the period, they immediately gave up a short-handed goal.

In the back half of the power play, as the pressure mounted to cancel out the catastrophe they had just created for themselves, Mikko Rantanen ripped one past David Rittich, setting the single-season Colorado Avalanche goal record.

Third Period

One of the seminal moments of the season came three minutes into the third period, as Alexandar Georgiev made a brilliant save, then Evan Rodrigues sped through the neutral zone, pulled out his trusty toe drag, and snuck one by Rittich for the game-winning goal.

The injury bug continued to haunt the Avs, as Denis Malgin was spotted missing from the Avs bench midway through the third. There was little information on what happened, but one report is that he was hit in the face by a puck. Winnipeg had moments down the stretch where they could have tied the game, but the Avs either blocked the shot or Georgiev made the save. Colorado had little puck possession this period (36 percent Corsi for), but they created 55 percent of expected goals, demonstrating why NHL teams gladly take the possession tradeoff for a superior defensive structure when protecting a lead down the stretch. Dallas closed their win out with about five minutes left in the Avs game to force them into must-win mode the rest of the season, then Artturi Lehkonen potted an empty netter for his 21st of the season a few minutes later, and the Avs sent the crowd home happy knowing their team was two points away from another division title.


This was ugly. It was scrappy. It was gutsy. It was the kind of game a lot of folks have complained about this year, decrying the fact that the Avs aren’t skating the other team off the ice every single night, but it’s the kind of hockey teams must play if they want to win the Stanley Cup. Last year’s Avalanche team was historically dominant, and many of those key pieces aren’t here anymore. This year’s team is different. It has less margin for error, but it’s also more seasoned and savvy. Excelling at these kinds of games is as good of a sign as any that the Avs are ready for the grind of the playoffs, no matter what happens tomorrow night.


Win tomorrow night against the Nashville Predators and the Avs are division champions and will play either the Seattle Kraken or Los Angeles Kings pending tonight’s results. Lose and they host the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m. MT.