What started with promise for the Winnipeg Jets quickly unravelled Thursday night in Denver as the loaded Colorado Avalanche rallied from an early deficit to crush the Jets 7-1.
The deck seemed stacked from the get-go for Winnipeg with Dylan DeMelo and Jansen Harkins going into COVID-19 protocol and Paul Stastny out with an undisclosed ailment.
But less than three minutes into the game, Mark Scheifele buried a juicy rebound on the power play to give Winnipeg the early advantage. It was the fifth straight game in which the team netted a goal with the man advantage.
The Jets continued to hold their own for much of the first, at one point outshooting the home side 10-5, but it’s a tall order to keep the Avalanche quiet for long.
Nazem Kadri continued his career season by deflecting an Erik Johnson point shot past Connor Hellebuyck to tie the game with 3:40 left in the first.
After that promising opening 20 minutes, things turned sour fast for the Jets in the second period as the Avs’ big guns took over the game.
The problems started when Pierre-Luc Dubois took a penalty for interference just under five minutes into the frame. Colorado made the Jets pay when Hellebuyck got a piece of a Mikko Rantanen slapshot but the rebound fluttered into the air, landed behind the Winnipeg goalie, and was banged home by Gabriel Landeskog to give Colorado the lead.
The top line continued to raise hell in the Winnipeg end just over five minutes later. Off a faceoff win, Nathan MacKinnon escaped the Jets’ defence and put a strong shot on goal that led to a rebound. Nate Schmidt could not check the stick of Rantanen in front of the net as the Finn potted his team-leading 16th goal.
But wait, there’s more!
Landeskog scored his second of the game and 12th of the season at the 15:21 mark, another goal off a rebound. MacKinnon picked up his third assist of the night on the tally that gave the home side a 4-1 lead.
18-7 was the margin in shots in the period for Colorado.
Winnipeg got a pair of power play chances early in the third period to try and cut into the Avalanche lead but could not beat Darcy Kuemper.
Tired of helping out his teammates, MacKinnon finally got a goal of his own just over 12 minutes into the third when he beat Hellebuyck on a short-side wrist shot.
The top line continued to pour it on with just under three minutes left on the power play when Landeskog buried a big rebound for his 4th career hat trick. Naturally, MacKinnon and Rantanen picked up helpers.
As if that wasn’t enough, Bowen Byram added a power play tally with just seconds remaining as Colorado finished the night 3-for-4 on the man advantage. Winnipeg went 1-for-5.
The Avalanche top line was simply too much to handle for Winnipeg, as the trio of Rantanen, Landeskog and MacKinnon combined for five goals and seven assists on the night.
It was also the 21st time in 30 games that Colorado scored at least four goals and the seventh time this season that the Avs potted seven goals.
Hellebuyck made 35 saves in defeat while Kuemper was rock solid for Colorado making 34 saves.
The Jets are now off for a week as they do not have another game scheduled until January 13 in Detroit.
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