Hellebuyck seconds away from consecutive shutouts

Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets celebrates his first period goal against the Colorado Avalanche with his teammates at MTS Centre on March 4, 2017. Jonathan Kozub / Getty Images

WINNIPEG – Connor Hellebuyck was kicking himself, even though his Winnipeg Jets won.

Making his 10th straight start, the Jets goalie almost had a shutout until captain Gabriel Landeskog tipped in a goal with 15.4 seconds left in Winnipeg’s 6-1 rout of the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. Hellebuyck made 22 saves, just a day after he had a 29-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.

“You have no idea, that is the worst feeling ever,” Hellebuyck said of the late goal. “But we got the win so I’m happy.

“I know I made a mistake sliding out a little bit. I think I got a little goalie interference before that, too. Maybe they call that back but, whatever, we got the win.”

Calvin Pickard was pulled from the Avalanche net after letting in five goals on 20 shots by 9:05 in the second period. He was replaced by Jeremy Smith, who stopped 10 shots for the visitors (17-43-3),

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Blake Wheeler and Nikolaj Ehlers had a goal and pair of assists each as Winnipeg’s top guns hit the back of the net early and often. Patrik Laine scored his rookie-leading 32nd goal, Mark Scheifele his 27th, Ehlers notched his 21st and Wheeler his 20th.

Winnipeg defencemen Ben Chiarot scored his first of the season in his 53rd game and Jacob Trouba his sixth goal for the Jets (30-30-6). Laine added an assist and Dustin Byfuglien a pair of assists.

“The second and the third (periods) it’s just frustration, and guys start to fragment and go off on their own pages and all of a sudden you look like a junior C team,” Landeskog said.

The Jets had a 3-0 lead after the first period and had outshot the Avs 14-3.

“We just came out not ready to play,” Colorado veteran defenceman Francois Beauchemin said. “At one point, you gotta start showing some pride.

“This is the NHL, and right now we’re just playing shinny hockey. It’s just embarrassing.”

Winnipeg has scored three or more goals in each of its last eight games and are 5-1-2 during that span.

“It was a carry over from (Friday),” said Wheeler, who has three goals and three assists in his last two games. “I think we were excited about our game after a huge game.”

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Ehlers believes a playoff berth can be reality.

“That’s our goal and the way we’re playing right now, we feel like we have the chance to make that wild-card spot,” Ehlers said. “We’ve just got to keep playing like this.”

Laine opened the game’s scoring at 4:22 of the first period when he had the puck in Colorado’s zone, circled around untouched and then fired a slap shot that went high over Pickard’s glove.

Wheeler and Scheifele made it 3-0 at 10:02 after scoring 15 seconds apart.

“Tonight it wasn’t Calvin’s fault,” Landeskog said. “We fell behind. It was the other 23 guys in this dressing room.”

Chiarot’s goal was scored with a backhand shot at 7:03 and Ehlers tapped in his goal 2:02 later to scuttle Pickard from the crease.

Trouba scored at 13:54 of the third period after his blast went off the back of the glass and he slapped in the rebound.

Winnipeg hosts the San Jose Sharks on Monday in the fourth game of a six-game homestand (2-1). Colorado ended a three-game road trip without a victory and heads home for a game Sunday against St. Louis.

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