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Avalanche Beat Jets 4-2, Setting Up Must-Win Game Friday For Central Division

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And then there was one for the Colorado Avalanche.

Like most of the wins over the last week for the Avalanche, it wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done, beating the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 in the final regular season game at Ball Arena. While the Avalanche were playing, the Dallas Stars took care of business in their game, beating the St. Louis Blues and jumping ahead of Colorado temporarily for the division lead. That means the Avalanche have to win their final game on Friday against Nashville if they want to take the division.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped 18 of 20 shots that came his way, winning his 39th game of the season. He will finish second in the league in victories, just one behind Boston’s Linus Ullmark.

First Period

The news of Gabriel Landeskog‘s season being over appeared to have an effect on the building, because the first period was emotionless. Not just on the ice, but the building itself was very quiet. Maybe part of that is that the Avalanche didn’t give them a ton to cheer for, certainly in the first 13 minutes of the game.

But Denis Malgin finally gave fans something to cheer about after a long shift that generated some chances. After regrouping in the neutral zone, Malgin carried the puck into the offensive zone before having it poked off his stick. Newhook outmuscled his man up high, and got the puck to Lars Eller in the slot. His initial shot was stopped, but Malgin was there to clean up the rebound, giving the Avalanche the 1-0 lead.

It wasn’t all good news in the first period, though. Andrew Cogliano took an awkward tumble into the boards, and left the ice immediately favoring his left shoulder. He did not return to the game due to an “upper-body” injury, and after the game, Jared Bednar said there’s “no timetable” for his return.

Second Period

The lack of energy in the first period carried over into the second, as the Avalanche were sluggish for most of the period. That sluggishness carried over into a late powerplay.

Mikko Rantanen went to pass the puck back to Devon Toews at the point, but it was easily picked off by Morgan Barron. Barron skated up the ice and hit a crashing Kevin Stenlund in front, who poked it past Georgiev, giving the Jets the 2-1 lead.

The lead would not last long, though. Rantanen made up for his error just 72 seconds later, smashing a pass from Evan Rodrigues over David Rittich, tying the game at two. The goal was Rantanen‘s 55th on the year, setting a single-season record for the Avalanche.

Third Period

It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to break the tie in the final period of the game. Alexandar Georgiev made a big save at one end of the ice, which sent the Avalanche the other way. Evan Rodrigues entered the zone, and wasted no time putting a shot on net. It fooled Rittich, beating him over the blocker, giving the Avalanche the 3-2 lead.

Denis Malgin only took two shifts in the third period before exiting for the game. After throwing a hit on Dillon in the second, the big defenseman landed on his leg. He also took a puck to the face on the bench, and never returned.

The rest of the period didn’t bring many shots for either team. Winnipeg finished the third with only four shots on net, all of which were stopped by Georgiev. Colorado finished with seven, their final shot coming on an empty net goal by Artturi Lehkonen, playing his first game in a month. That goal gave the Avalanche the 4-2 victory, setting up a game against Nashville on Friday to decide the division. That game starts at 6 PM MST.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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