Avalanche blitz Jets early, win 5-1 for 4th straight
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon scored 19 seconds in and the Colorado Avalanche got four goals on their first five shots Friday night in a 5-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets that extended their winning streak to four games.
MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and J.T. Compher each had a goal and an assist. Bowen Byram and Matt Nieto also scored for the Avalanche (32-19-5), who are 5-0-1 in their past six games and 12-2-2 in their last 16.
“We were rested and we got some good practice in this week,” said Compher, whose team last played at home Sunday in a 6-5 overtime victory against Edmonton.
“We were ready right from the puck drop and continued it for 60 minutes tonight.”
Alexandar Georgiev made 26 saves for Colorado, which has also won four straight on the road.
“Scored timely goals and played smart,” Georgiev said. “Managed to score some more in the second (period), and the third we shut them down completely.”
Mason Appleton had the goal for the Jets (35-23-1), who are 1-4-0 in their past five games.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 21 of the 26 shots he faced in the opener of Winnipeg’s three-game homestand before he was replaced by David Rittich to start the third period. Rittich made 10 saves.
Earlier in the week, Jets coach Rick Bowness said this matchup against Winnipeg’s surging division rivals was the “most important game of the year.”
“Well, we were asleep to start the game. No question,” Bowness said. “So you talk to the players and get their opinion. We were clearly asleep.”
The Avalanche led 4-1 after the first and 5-1 following the second.
“From the first shift, you saw, obviously, they capitalized on their chances,” Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon said. “They were quicker to pucks. They were physical. We got humbled tonight.”
MacKinnon put Colorado ahead with his 20th goal of the season on a breakaway. It was the fastest game-opening goal by the Avalanche since MacKinnon scored 11 seconds in on Oct. 13, 2018.
“You want to give credit to them, they’re a really good hockey team, but we didn’t help ourselves tonight,” Appleton said. “We’re a really good hockey team when we want to be. We were not that tonight.”
Winnipeg tied it at 3:12 on the power play when Appleton tipped in Nate Schmidt’s drive from the point.
Rantanen made it 2-1 just 80 seconds later with his 37th of the season. He was followed by Compher three minutes later, and Byram bumped it to 4-1 at 10:58.
The Jets had their second power play in the final two minutes of the period, but didn’t get a shot on net.
Winnipeg changed its defensive pairings to start the second, but Nieto went to the front of the net and tapped in a pass from Compher to make it 5-1 at 10:59.
Colorado was 0 for 3 on the power play and Winnipeg went 1 for 5.
“Some time off this week to get some practice time in and some rest time, so that benefited us early in the game,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said.
“And then some really good discipline, structurally sound, made them earn all their chances. I thought we did a nice job on the defending side of it, moved the puck pretty efficiently tonight, so it turned out to be a pretty good performance for our group.”
PILING UP POINTS
MacKinnon has 14 points in a six-game point streak, including six goals. Compher has eight points in three games (two goals, six assists).
Avalanche: Host the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Jets: Host the New York Islanders on Sunday.
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