The Colorado Avalanche made a statement in Denver on Thursday night.
“We are simply too fast, too strong and too skilled.”
Despite jumping out to a 1-0 lead early in the first period, the Winnipeg Jets just didn’t have the net presence and couldn’t solve the mystery of another goaltender — this time Darcy Kuemper — as the Avalanche scored three unanswered goals in the second period and cruised to a 7-1 shellacking of the visitors from Winnipeg.
Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog led the way with three goals and an assist while Nathan McKinnon had a goal and four assists and Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists.
With the loss, the Jets had their three-game winning-streak snapped and fell to 16-12-5 on the season, third in the Western Conference Wild Card race. On the upside, the Jets did win two-of-three on this short New Year road trip and came home with four-of-a-possible-six points.
The Jets went into this one without regulars Paul Stastny (lower-body injury), Dylan DeMelo and Jansen Harkins (NHL COVID Protocol) and while they looked good early, the Avalanche simply skated them into the ice by the midway point of the second period.
Winnipeg opened the scoring at the 2:58 mark of the first period when Mark Scheifele buried a rebound to tally his ninth of the season. Andrew Copp and Neal Pionk and drew the assists and Winnipeg continued to play well until Colorado’s Nazem Kadri tipped home a shot from Erik Johnson at 16:20 that tied the game at 1-1.
In the second period, the Avs took over. Landeskog scored a power-play goal at 5:20 and that opened the floodgates. Mikko Rantanen made it 3-1 at 10:28 and then Landeskog scored his second of the game at 15:21 as Colorado took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission.
In the third, McKinnon scored his fourth of the season at 12:17, Landeskog made it 6-1 with his third of the game at 17:10 and then Bowen Byrum rounded out the scoring at 19:49. The final two goals came on the power-play as Colorado went three-for-four with the man advantage. The Jets power play was one-for-five.
After the first period, this one really wasn’t close. Colorado outshot Winnipeg 42-35 as the Jets completely ran out of gas in the final half of the third period. Winnipeg won 53 per cent of the face-offs and had plenty of chances despite the fact they had virtually no net-presence in front of Kuemper, but once again they made an average NHL goaltender look like Georges Vezina.
In the meantime, Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck looked weary by the end of the onslaught.
Winnipeg was scheduled to play at home on Saturday night against the Seattle Kraken but that game was postponed due to the province’s COVID policy that allows for no fans in the stands. Yesterday, the Jets sent out a survey to their fans asking for input into the team playing some home games at the 15,195-seat SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
It’s obvious, the Jets don’t want to play at home for any stretch in an empty building.
It’s very likely the Jets next game will be on the road in Detroit next Thursday evening.