Winnipeg Jets Soar Over Avalanche 2-1 in Overtime


107. 1. 103. Final. 2

The Colorado Avalanche headed to Canada to take on the Winnipeg Jets in an afternoon duel. The Avalanche were hoping to build on an impressive 7-3 thumping of the Canucks in their last game, but couldn’t get things going this afternoon. The Jets played very well, and earned the two points, despite Blake Wheeler not impacting the scoreboard. Wheeler has been an Avalanche killer in his career, with 15 points in 7 games prior to today’s game against Colorado.

The first period started off with some good sustained pressure from the Winnipeg Jets, who were looking to finish off their five game homestand with a win. Jets Captain, Andrew Ladd, scored a deserved first goal of the game at 6:55, and the Jets were off and flying.

The rest of the period settled into a nice ebb and flow for each team, with neither grasping control. The Jets missed an opportunity to really take command, with an power play just 30 seconds after their goal, but the Avalanche penalty kill stood strong. The Avalanche were able to connect on a pair of stretch passes in the second half of the period, but unfortunately, the less offensively inclined Maxime Talbot and Cody McLeod were on the receiving end. Talbot was stoned on his breakaway attempt, and Cody Mac didn’t handle the pass cleanly.

The Avalanche seemed to be heading to the locker room trailing by a goal, but then Matt Duchene was nice enough to take a stick to the face. We all know Duchene bleeds burgundy and blue, and he was able to present some of that blood to the official after Zach Bogosian clipped him in the chops. The Avs power play didn’t even need the extra time, because Jamie McGinn continued his strong start to the season with a power play goal with 25 seconds left in the frame. Tyson Barrie picked up an assist on the goal, extending his point streak to 4 games (6 points).

The second period was a bit of a mundane twenty minutes. Both teams settled into a nice defensive rhythm, offensive struggle, or perhaps a bit of both. The Avs and Jets each had a pair of power plays, but the penalty kill units showed why they are both top five in the league right now. No dice on the power plays.

The biggest highlight of the second period, was a bone crunching hit by Dustin Byfuglian on Tyson Barrie. Big Buff looked like a snowplow going through poor little Barrie, and deposited the diminutive Avalanche defenseman into a heap of snow in the corner. John Mitchell was quick to his teammates defense, and ripped off Byfuglian’s helmet, before Buff tossed him to the ice as well.

The hit was clean, although was still  dangerous, and perhaps an unnecessary play by Buff. The guy weighs 260 pounds, and there was no real need to bury Barrie like he did. That’s why Byfuglian is in the NHL though. He has a big body, and gets paid to use it, so can’t really fault him for trying to impact the game and can’t blame him for being big.

The third period saw a few more scoring chances than the second, however there wasn’t an influx of shots for either team. Both teams had a big power play opportunity at the end of regulation, but neither could capitalize. The Avalanche gave the Jets not one, but two shorthanded 2-on-1 rushes, but neither resulted in a shot. The Jets outshot the Avalanche 28-23 for the game.

The overtime was exciting to say the least, with multiple plays where breath holding was mandatory. Varlamov stood tall in the OT, but couldn’t quite get the Avalanche to the shootout. An Andrew Ladd shot took a deflection off Bryan Little’s stick with under a minute to go. Not the best game for the Avalanche, and they end up with a point. Certainly not the result the Avalanche wanted, but probably got exactly what they deserved with their play this afternoon.

Erik Johnson Injury

The Avalanche lost Erik Johnson to an apparent upper body injury during the third period. He got tangled up and shoved awkwardly into the boards, and left the game. No word yet on the type or extent of the injury, but if it is serious, this could prove to be more costly to the Avs than the result of the game long-term. Early reports say that EJ did undergo the NHL concussion protocol while in the locker room.