After two rare consecutive days offshore, the Colorado Avalanche flew to Winnipeg to begin a back-to-back streak over the weekend. While this was not Avalanche’s cleanest game and despite scoring a two-goal lead in the third period, Cale Makar led the team to victory in a 5-4 final in extra time.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel brought Avalanche to the scoreboard early in this match with his second goal in his last three games. It was a nice transition play from Josh Manson and Alex Newhook that allowed Aube-Kubel to make a sharp corner shot and the puck bounced off a Winnipeg Jets defender at 5:10.
Despite Avalanche firing 15 shots on goal and getting the first power play of the match, Winnipeg equalized the match on a Mark Scheifele score after taking advantage of a two-on-one and then took the lead as Nicolai Ehlers was the beneficiary of a failed Avalanche Blast. It was a rare 2-1 for Avalanche after the first 20 minutes of play.
Some momentum began to emerge for Avalanche for the start of the second period and Andre Burakovsky took advantage at 3:55 with his wonderfully smooth patented shot. Cale Makar and Bowen Byram gained assists throughout the game with a well executed breakout.
Erik Johnson who had some adventurous moments on the defensive but was rewarded on the other side of the ice by taking a little fluid feed from Newhook and then beat the puck home for the lead at 9:11.
JT Compher received a penalty shot but failed to conjure birthday magic. The Jets naturally benefited from a call in return, but failed to find the bottom of the net, so the second bout ended 3-2 in favor of Colorado.
It looked like the guests had finally found enough production to put this game to bed when Nathan MacKinnon scored his fourth home goal on a net rebound just over four minutes into the third period.
There was just too much time left and a two-goal lead wasn’t enough for the Avalanche to escape disaster without playing at their absolute best as the Jets had other plans. Things started to change when Scheifele scored his second goal of the night at 16:25 on a poorly covered rush. Avalanche had a chance to score several times into an empty net, but Mikko Rantanen took a penalty for tripping with 44 seconds left to give the Jets the ammunition they needed. At 7:44 pm it was Ehlers’ turn to score his second goal of the night aided by a limping Devon Toews who absorbed a big wall and went into extra time.
It was Colorado’s turn to benefit from a power play at the start of the extra loom and while they consumed nearly the entire power play trying to run fruitless peak plays, it was Mikko Rantanen who found Cale Makar on the seam pass. crossed ice and Makar hammered the home puck to finally give the Avalanche a 5-4 win with his third goal of the season in extra time.
Despite what was said on the card, it was actually Bowen Byram paired with Cale Makar for the vast majority of this game, 14:16 even time on the ice to be exact. They were in a lot of situations with the top line as Bednar seemed to be testing an offensive pair. They were on the ice together for goals from Burakovsky and MacKinnon and no one against. Byram is still recalibrating some of the finer details of his he game, but he’s showing just how capable he is of this kind of responsibility early on in his return to the game.
If the jump ahead and the subsequent extra-time score is what drives Makar to the 30-goal plateau, maybe some free hockey was worth it (assuming Devon Toews is fine after blocking too). However, Avalanche cannot be happy with jumping ahead and failing to generate very sustained pressure in the attacking zone. A 42 percent of Corsi for the entire game and a staggering 31 percent in the third period just aren’t enough. The effort and work ethic weren’t scarce, but the Jets played a very inspired game and it was almost enough to grab the win. Something to keep in mind as they try to make it through these last 11 matches of the regular season.
The second half of said back-to-back tomorrow night at Edmonton Oilers. Disc delivery is at 8pm MT.