Following an odd set of circumstances, the Colorado Avalanche turned to little-known backup goaltender Adam Werner, who stole the visitors two points on the road in a 4-0 shutout victory from Bell MTS Place Tuesday.
The Central Division contest began in a rather bizarre fashion, as the Avs’ starting netminder Pavel Francouz was forced out of the game after a heavy collision with Jets forward Mark Scheifele which left the 29-year-old down on the ice in apparent pain.
Already down starter Philipp Grubauer – who is dealing with a lower body injury – Colorado was forced to turn to the 22-year-old Werner for the duration of the game. The rookie looked like a seasoned vet, stopping countless quality chances from the Jets’ offence in his first career NHL test. Manitoban Byron Spriggs served as the Avalanche’s emergency backup.
Colorado’s Cale Makar found the first goal of the game with just 58 seconds to play in the opening frame. The potential 2019-20 Calder Trophy winner walked around a number of Jets’ defenders before cutting to the middle and beating Connor Hellebuyck to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead on his 18th point in 18 games this season.
Despite Winnipeg narrowly outshooting the visitors 9-8, Werner proved to be the difference for Colorado in the opening frame. His success would continue in the second period, as neither team could buy a goal. Nathan MacKinnon found the crossbar just a minute into the frame, but that was as close as either Central Division rival would get. The Jets outshot the Avalanche once again, 12-8, bringing the game total to 21-16 after 40 minutes of play.
Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon gave the visitors some breathing room just 18 seconds into the final frame with a quick release from the slot that beat Hellebuyck high blocker side. MacKinnon struck again less than seven minutes later, capitalizing on a god-awful defensive change by Dmitry Kulikov and beating Hellebuyck on a breakaway.
Joonas Donskoi added a fourth goal for Colorado with a dejected Blake Wheeler sitting in the Jets’ penalty box on a slashing minor. NHL first-timer Adam Werner continued to stand on his head in the third period, turning aside another 19 in the final frame, finishing the game with 40 stops and his first career win and shutout in 59:29 of action. Despite making every save in the game, the win will be considered a ‘shared shutout’ and neither goaltender will receive official credit for it.
Winnipeg – which had gone 9-3-4 in its last 16 games against Colorado, including winning seven of its past eight on home ice – concluded its four-game homestand Tuesday, going 2-1-1 in the process. The Jets will now travel south on a four-game road trip through Florida, Tampa Bay, Nashville and Dallas over the next week. Puck drop for Thursday’s game in Florida is set for 6:00 PM central. All four games will be available to view live on TSN3.