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

The Colorado Avalanche scored four unanswered goals and stole home ice advantage with a Game 2 triumph over the Winnipeg Jets.

The Avs evened up the first round playoff series with a 5-2 victory in front of another sellout crowd at the Canada Life Centre.

The Jets got off to a strong start in Game 2, but the Avalanche took the game over in the second period, scoring three times in the span of just over five minutes to take the lead for good.

“We were a lot better in certain areas,” said Jets head coach Rick Bowness. “We had some lapses. Certainly at the end of the second there. That kinda caught up to us a little bit. But we had the start we really wanted.

“For the most part it was a lot better in areas and there’s still improvement to be made in other areas.”

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David Gustafsson and Mark Scheifele had the goals for the Jets in the loss.

The Jets scored seven times on only 23 shots in the series opener, but Avs netminder Alexandar Georgiev had a bounce-back performance, stopping 28 of 30 shots to tie up the series.

“We need to spend more time in their end,” Bowness said. “We don’t get our ‘D’ involved enough. They’re throwing a lot of pucks, just throwing them at the net and we’re not getting enough of that.

“We can spend more time in their zone, but the only way we’re going to do that is to win some battles low and get our defence a lot more involved. And we’re still passing up chances to shoot the puck.”

Winnipeg didn’t have a lot of sustained zone time, and while they were only outshot 32-30, the Avs hit several posts and had the bulk of the quality scoring chances.

“It stings,” Kyle Connor said. “I’m sure they’re happy with the split. At the same time we’ve got to respond. We’ve got to dictate that play going into their barn.”

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“It was a tough fought game,” Scheifele said. “They probably had a little too much zone time. Kind of gave them too much space at times in that game.

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“It’s the playoffs. You’re not going to win every game. You just got to be prepared for all the punches that are thrown.”

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 Gustafsson. His attempted tip-in was turned aside by 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.

Shots at one point in the first were 8-2 in favour of the Jets but Colorado swung the momentum their way over the latter half of the first, outshooting the Jets 12-2 in the final five minutes. 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 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.

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 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, an inch or two from scoring.

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.

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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.

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.

Hellebuyck got saddled with the loss after making 27 saves.

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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.

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