Nathan MacKinnon is really rounding into form, but if the Colorado Avalanche want to win consistently, they’ll need more from some of their other stars.
On Thursday night, they didn’t get enough from the rest of the team.
MacKinnon scored a goal and an assist, giving him points on the last seven Avalanche goals, but it wasn’t enough, as Colorado fell at home to the Winnipeg Jets by a score of 4-2. The rest of the stars on the team, including Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, and Devon Toews, didn’t have their best nights, while the Jets played sound defensive hockey, keeping Colorado to the outside most of the third period.
Alexandar Georgiev made 24 saves on 27 shots for the Avalanche, while Connor Hellebuyck made 32 stops to slow down the home team. With the win, the Jets move within two points of the Avalanche in the standings.
A lot of fans were late getting to the game because of traffic.
They didn’t miss a whole lot in the first.
Period one was tame for both teams. Colorado had a powerplay in the first half of the period, and while they maintained possession in the zone for a long period of time, everything was mostly kept to the outside.
On the other hand, Winnipeg had a few good looks, and the guy getting them was Kyle Connor. From an Avalanche perspective, not the guy you want getting great looks at the net. On his first chance, he drifted away from Bowen Byram, but Georgiev pushed out to make the save. On his second opportunity, he missed the net high after being left alone in the slot.
It looked like the period was going to end without any goals, but a late mistake by the Avalanche gave the Jets the lead.
Mikko Rantanen tried to make a cross-ice pass from the boards, and it ended up on a Jets players stick in the neutral zone. The puck was dumped in to Colorado’s zone, and with under 10 seconds left, the Avalanche should have played it pretty safe, right?
Devon Toews tried to force a pass up the wall to MacKinnon. The puck was picked off, and Jonsson-Fjallby hit a wide open Adam Lowry, who skated down the slot and beat Georgiev over the blocker.
A brutal end to the period for Colorado, something that has happened a little too often this season.
The start of the second period? Not much better.
Just 32 seconds in, Connor connected on another chance in the slot to make it 2-0. This one came after Cale Makar failed to hit MacKinnon on a breakout pass from behind the net.
The Avalanche answered back pretty quickly. Toews hit a streaking MacKinnon in the neutral zone, who caught all the Jets defenders flat-footed. He burst in on a breakaway, and while Hellebuyck got a piece of it, he couldn’t get all of it, as it bounced off the cross-bar and in, cutting the lead to one.
Both teams had powerplays but failed to connect. Both teams also had extended shifts in the offensive zone, but neither team was able to capitalize.
With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Rantanen tried a rush up the ice and had the puck taken off his stick. Winnipeg went the other way, and after carrying it around the world, the puck wound up on the stick of a wide open Josh Morrissey. He had time to walk into a shot, and beat a screened Georgiev to make it 3-1.
Georgiev was quite unhappy with Sam Malinski, who was in a battle in front of the net. The goaltender gave him a whack on the shinpads after the puck went in. Was it a whack of encouragement or frustration? After the game, Georgiev expressed remorse for hitting Malinski, so we’ll go with the latter on that one.
Late in the period, the Avalanche got one back, and the goal was created by, you guessed it, Nathan MacKinnon. The superstar forward avoided a hip check from Brenden Dillon, and hit a wide open Joel Kiviranta in front. From the press box, it looked like a sure goal, but the refs didn’t call anything on the ice. A brief review confirmed it to be a goal.
After giving up a goal in the final minute in the first, the Avalanche got one of their own to end the second. Would it make a difference in the third?
While Colorado did hold possession in the Jets zone quite a bit, the puck was generally kept to the outside. The Avalanche were credited with just two scoring chances at even strength in the third, which isn’t good enough if you’re down a goal. Credit to the Jets though, as they played their system to perfection.
The Avalanche had one big opportunity to tie the game up very early in the third, as they found themselves with a 47 second 5-on-3. However, the top unit failed to generate anything, and the Jets held onto their lead.
Whatever Colorado did get through to the net, Connor Hellebuyck swallowed, as he takes up a large percentage of the net. With the net empty, Jonathan Drouin’s pass to the point was picked off, and Kyle Connor added his second goal of the evening, sealing the game for Winnipeg.
With the win, the Jets closed the gap in the standings on the Avalanche, as they now sit just two points back in the Central Division.
Colorado will continue their homestand on Saturday evening when the Philadelphia Flyers come to town. That game starts at 7 PM MST.