The rest of the Western Conference should be very afraid, because the Colorado Avalanche are rounding into form.
On Friday night, the Avalanche sent a message to the Jets (and the rest of the West) that they’re hunting for that top seed. After scoring four goals in the first 11 minutes, they cruised to a 5-1 victory over Winnipeg.
The win moves the Avalanche within two points of the Jets in the standings, with three games in hand. They’re also closing in on the first place Stars, sitting just three points back now. The Avalanche are now 12-2-2 in their last 16 games.
Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher, Bowen Byram, and Matt Nieto scored for the Avalanche. Compher, MacKinnon, and Rantanen each added assists.
Alexandar Georgiev finished with 26 saves on 27 shots.
Mason Appleton scored the lone Jets goal.
If you like goals (who doesn’t?), then the first period was for you. And the Avalanche scored most of them.
Just 19 seconds into the game, MacKinnon found himself on a breakaway. After every player on the Avalanche touched the puck on the breakout, it came to a wide open MacKinnon in the neutral zone. He flew into the offensive zone and beat Hellebuyck blocker side to give his team the early lead.
The Jets got one back just three minutes later, when Mason Appleton scored a powerplay goal, deflecting a shot past Georgiev to tie the game.
From that point on, the Avalanche took control.
80 seconds after Appleton’s goal, Rantanen was allowed to (slowly) walk into the zone on an odd man rush with Compher. With all the time in the world, the Finnish star labeled a puck off the post and in, restoring the lead for the Avalanche.
Three minutes later, Compher got in on the action himself. While standing in front of the net, a Rantanen shot from the point hit Compher’s body and trickled past Hellebuyck.
That was not the end of the Avalanche goal scoring spree.
A little over 10 minutes into the period, Byram joined in on the fun. After a nice zone entry by Alex Newhook, Andrew Cogliano dropped it back to Byram, who was allowed to walk into the high slot. He fired a shot off Hellebuyck’s glove and in, giving the Avalanche the 4-1 lead. With that goal, the Avalanche had scored on four of their first five shots.
Winnipeg got another powerplay late in the period, but were unable to capitalize. The Avalanche carried that three-goal lead into the second period.
Predictably, the pace in the second period was much slower. The teams exchanged chances, but the action was not as chaotic.
The only goal of the period was scored by the Avalanche. Nieto was the beneficiary of nice passing from Compher and Devon Toews. The veteran winger was left all alone in front, tapping home a pass from Compher.
Georgiev made nice saves at the end of the period to keep the Jets at one goal, and the Avalanche took a four-goal lead into the intermission.
The third period was uneventful, to say the least. The Jets pulled Hellebuyck, indicating they had thrown in the towel. That allowed the Avalanche to roll their lines and play everyone.
Neither team scored in the third, and the Avalanche walked away with a dominant 5-1 victory.
Resting their players in the third period was important, because the Avalanche are right back at it on Saturday night. They’ll face the visiting Calgary Flames at Ball Arena. It will mark the first time Nazem Kadri will play in Denver since the Stanley Cup Final. The game starts at 8 PM MST.