DENVER -- It took a little more than a month and nearly the entire five-minute overtime Sunday for the Winnipeg Jets to register back-to-back victories.
"I had no idea of the time left," said Wheeler, who also set up Andrew Ladd's third-period goal that gave the Jets a brief 1-0 lead. "I knew it was toward the end of it. We were at the end of our shift, too. We knew this was the last gasp. We wanted to get one more crack at it and we were able to find a hole there."
The Jets, who defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-4 at home on Friday, hadn't won back-to-back games since Nov. 25-27 when they beat the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.
"We're playing more consistent, but our season isn't built on two games," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "But we'll certainly take the positives out of the two games."
The winning play began after Jets goalie Al Montoya, who made 33 saves, stopped Ryan O'Reilly's shot from point-blank range with a few seconds remaining. The Jets took possession and raced into the Avalanche end. Dustin Byfuglien shot the puck off the end boards, Mark Scheifele got to the puck and passed to Wheeler in the slot for a redirection between goalie Semyon Varlamov's pads.
Varlamov, who made 35 saves, got a piece of the puck, but it leaked through and crossed the goal line just before the buzzer that would have sent the game to a shootout.
"Mark has good hockey sense," Wheeler said. "That's the best part of his game. He was looking shot the whole way, but I could see out of the corner of his eye he was motioning to me to see if anyone was coming. I was able to get by my guy and just called for it at the last second. All I had to do was redirect it at the net and was able to find a hole."
The Avalanche have lost four games in a row (0-1-3), but they gained a point and are third in the Central Division, five points ahead of the Dallas Stars and the Wild.
"I'm not happy because we need those two points; it's all about the points," Varlamov said. "I can't lose that game, not like that. We got one point, that's a positive thing. I think we played a good game. We had so many chances to score and we just didn't score, but I think offensively we played very well, created so many chances in front of the net."
Ladd snapped a scoreless tie at 11:42 of the third period with a one-timer from between the circles off a pass from Wheeler, but the Avalanche tied the game 29 seconds later on a goal by Nathan MacKinnon, whose shot from the right wing deflected into the net off a Jets defenseman's skate.
"We tried to tell our guys, don't look for perfect plays," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We're looking for perfect plays all the time. Just put it on net. You never know what could happen, and it's exactly how we scored. You don't have to make pretty plays all the time. You just need to put the puck at the net and go to the net. That's the part I thought we were missing in our game tonight."
Said Montoya: "It was an unfortunate bounce. We had just scored. They grabbed a little bit of momentum back. At the same time, we stuck with our game plan. It shows a lot about this team. You don't get frustrated. You keep doing what we were doing and stuck with it and got the win."
Neither team could generate much in the way of quality scoring chances until the third period and overtime. The Avalanche had 12 shots in the third and five in the overtime. The Jets had 11 in the third and four in OT.
The Avalanche also lost right wing PA Parenteau to a knee injury at 16:20 of the second period when he and Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba clipped skates at center ice. Parenteau needed help into the trainer's room.
Roy said he would know more about Parenteau's status on Monday. Parenteau, who has nine goals and 15 assists, was skating on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny. His absence forced Roy to shuffle his lines for the remainder of the game.
|Andrew Ladd (10) ASST: Blake Wheeler (16), Jacob Trouba (8)|
1 - 0 WPG
|Nathan MacKinnon (9) ASST: Gabriel Landeskog (16), Erik Johnson (10)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Blake Wheeler (15) ASST: Mark Scheifele (13), Dustin Byfuglien (22)|
2 - 1 WPG
|Bryan Little Hooking against Paul Stastny|
|Nathan MacKinnon Interference against James Wright|
|Gabriel Landeskog Slashing against Jacob Trouba|