Four-goal second period propels Colorado to 5-2 Game 2 win over Winnipeg Jets

Few figured that a playoff series between two of the top teams in the NHL would result in a sweep.

The Colorado Avalanche made sure Winnipeg Jets fans kept their brooms in their closet, evening their first round battle with a 5-2 win in the Manitoba capital Tuesday night.

The Jets wasted little time picking up where they left off after a 7-6 game 1 triumph, scoring on their third shot of the night just 3:15 into the game.

Winnipeg’s fourth line put the pressure on Colorado in their own end, leading to a chance in front for David Gustafsson. His attempted tip-in was turned aside by Alexandar Georgiev but Gustafsson had a wide open net in which to bury the rebound for his first career playoff goal in the NHL.

The Jets continued to pour on the pressure as the first period went along, earning a pair of power plays along the way but they couldn’t build on their lead.

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Shots at one point in the first were 8-2 in favour of the Jets but Colorado swung momentum their way over the latter half of the first, outshooting the Jets 12-2 in the final five minutes but Connor Hellebuyck stood tall to keep the Jets in front on the scoreboard after one.

But it didn’t stay that way for long in the second. Ross Colton won a faceoff to the right of Hellebuyck and sent the puck to Miles Wood, who let a quick shot go that went through the legs of Logan Stanley before going through the five-hole of a screened, unsuspecting Hellebuyck to tie the game 1:59 into the second.

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The Avalanche earned a huge opportunity to take the lead when Kyle Connor took a double-minor for high-sticking Cale Makar 4:05 into the period but Winnipeg killed it off, thanks in part to three blocked shots by Dylan Samberg.

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Winnipeg took that momentum and rode it to the go-ahead goal 32 seconds after Connor returned to the ice. Gabriel Vilardi carried the puck into the Colorado end and sent a perfect pass to Mark Scheifele at the back door. Scheifele deflected it over Georgiev and into the net to send the crowd into a frenzy.

Connor nearly made it 3-1 with just under seven minutes left in the frame when he wired one off the inside of the post, and inch or two from scoring.

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Colorado took advantage of the close call by tying the game 57 seconds later. A point shot from Cale Makar was tipped in front by Artturi Lehkonen to level the score.

The Avalanche then took advantage of a miscue from Hellebuyck to take the lead just over three minutes later. The Jets’ goalie came out of crease to play the puck behind his net but he had his stick lifted by Yakov Trenin as chaos ensued. Andrew Cogliano found the loose puck and fed it in front to Zach Parise, whose initial shot was turned aside by a sliding Hellebuyck but he buried the rebound to give the Avalanche their first lead of the night with 2:40 left in the second.

It looked like it would stay 3-2 into the intermission before the Jets gave up an absolute backbreaker. With teams playing at 4-on-4, Nikolaj Ehlers fell, possibly via an uncalled trip, in the Colorado end and tried to play the puck while on the ice but he lost the handle.

Lehkonen took the puck away and slid it up the wall to Nathan MacKinnon, who noticed that Josh Manson had just jumped out of the penalty box and had nobody around him. MacKinnon fed Manson with a perfect stretch pass and the blueliner beat Hellebuyck five-hole with 6.9 seconds left in the period to make it 4-2 after 40 minutes.

Colorado did a good job limiting Winnipeg’s chances to mount a comeback in the third, keeping them mostly to the outside and allowing five shots in the first 12:25 before Brandon Duhaime went to the box for interference, giving the Jets as good a chance as they would get to try and cut into the lead.

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Instead, they managed only one shot on goal as the two minutes came and went without incident for Colorado.

Hellebuyck was pulled for an extra attacker with under two minutes left but with 56.4 seconds remaining, Valeri Nichushkin hit the empty net to ensure the Avs would be heading back to Colorado with a split of the first two games.

Georgiev bounced back from a rocky game 1, stopping 28 shots while Hellebuyck got saddled with the loss after making 27 saves.

Game 3 in the best-of-seven series goes Friday night in Denver. Puck drop is scheduled for 9 p.m. with pregame coverage on 680 CJOB starting at 6:30.