Sometimes you're good. Sometimes you're lucky. On Friday night, the Colorado Avalanche
took advantage of a lucky bounce to score the first of his two goals as the Avs rolled over the Blue Jackets 5-0 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus to pick up a big two points in their race for a playoff spot.
In the final minute of the first period, the Jackets forward Colton Gillies
rang a shot from the slot off the crossbar -- and the puck came all the way out to the point, where Jones grabbed it to begin a 2-on-1. He finished by firing a low wrister from the right faceoff dot past goalie Steve Mason
's stick side for his 13th of the season.
"We felt pretty fortunate," Jones said of his unassisted goal.
, who had 28 saves in his third shutout of the season and ninth of his career, was outstanding in the first period as the Avalanche, winding up a stretch where they've played six of seven on the road, got off to a slow start -- until Jones' goal.
"Getting the first goal was very important," coach Joe Sacco said. "You get off to a tough start like we did, getting that first one's very important."
It was a blow to the Blue Jackets, who were playing their first game since trading centers Antoine Vermette and Jeff Carter after Tuesday's 6-3 win against San Jose.
"The play right at the end of the first period ended up being a big play," coach Todd Richards said. "It was a little deflating coming in after the first [period]; I don't think we ever got our game back."
Defenseman James Wisniewski
said the frustration was palpable.
"The most frustrating part about this year is -- how many times have we done that? We've been physically dominating games and we let up one or two goals and we can't recover from that," Wisniewski said. "That's happened at least a dozen times. We hit a crossbar and they get a 2-on-1 and score a goal. Instead of being up 2-0 or 3-0, we're down 1-0 and we never recover."
After getting the first goal, the Avalanche poured it on to continue their mastery of the lowly Blue Jackets, who are last in the overall standings with 43 points, though they had won two in a row. Gabriel Landeskog
and newcomer Steve Downie
each had a goal and an assist and Matt Hunwick
also scored for the Avalanche, who improved to 32-8-1-1 against Columbus, including 15-5-1-1 at Nationwide Arena.
The Avalanche stayed two points behind eighth-place Dallas after winning a second game in a row for the first time since Dec. 31.
Varlamov made the early goal stand up by twice stopping Columbus captain Rick Nash
-- also the subject of widespread trade rumors.
"I don't think it was the same old song," Nash said. "We played great for two periods. It was just their goalie made big saves and we didn't bear down when we had the chances. I had two chances on one shift I could have scored goals."
Varlamov said the Avalanche couldn't afford to look ahead to Saturday's visit to Detroit.
"I feel good right now. I've had a couple of good practices. I have to continue to work and try to play well," he said. "It's a tough situation with four teams fighting for the last spots in the playoffs. Every game is huge for us. Every point is huge."
Landeskog, one of the NHL's top rookies, scored his 16th of the season midway through the second period. He took a cross-ice pass from Downie and fired a high wrister from the right dot that beat Mason high on the glove side.
The Avalanche pushed the lead to 3-0 on Jones' second of the night early in the third period. Downie then pounced on a rebound and Hunwick turned a turnover into an end-to-end sprint to complete the demolition.
The Jackets were without defenseman Jack Johnson
, the key piece they got from Los Angeles in return for Carter. Johnson, a native of Indianapolis, got an ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.
"I'm a Midwest kid. It's great to be back here, close to home, close to friends and family," he said. "When a trade happens, it means a team wants you. It's a great feeling to come into a place where they want you. I'm looking forward to giving everything I have to offer."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report