The Colorado Avalanche special teams had another strong performance, this time in a tight back-and-forth contest against the Winnipeg Jets.
Colorado's power play scored for the third consecutive game and its penalty-kill teams didn't allow a goal in the 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon at MTS Centre. Both of the Jets' goals came on tips in front of the net, with Bryan Little netting the winner at 4:35 of the extra period.
"I thought it was a great game," Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. "Both teams played well. Both teams understood how important it was to win that game."
Down 1-0 after Andrew Ladd opened the game's scoring for the Jets at 6:25 of the first period, the Avalanche power play went to work after Zack Bogosian took a four-minute double-minor penalty for high sticking Matt Duchene with 25 seconds left in the stanza.
It only took seven seconds for the Avs to score with the man advantage as Tyson Barrie threw the puck on net from the left point, and Jamie McGinn grabbed the rebound in the slot and snapped a shot past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec's blocker.
The goal came off a set play after Duchene moved the puck toward the Winnipeg blue line following the faceoff.
"We changed the setup a little bit. Off draws, if we win it clean we try and work the puck around and get a shot. If we win the draw, might as well try and get it right away," Barrie said. "That has been working for us. I think a lot more urgency and getting more pucks to the net has been big for us."
The Avalanche went 1-for-4 on the power play versus the Jets and is now 4-for-13 in its last three games, a huge improvement after beginning the season 1-for-22. Colorado scored twice against Florida on Tuesday and once against Vancouver on Friday—and two of the team's other goals against the Canucks came just seconds after the man-advantage opportunity expired while the Avs still possessed the puck and some power-play momentum.
"I think that Vancouver game gave us a lot of confidence," Colorado alternate captain Cody McLeod said. "Got our power play going. Got some goals. Guys are feeling a bit better about themselves."
On the defensive side, Colorado went 4-for-4 while shorthanded versus Winnipeg and hasn't yielded a power-play tally in its past two games. The Avalanche is now fourth in the league in penalty kill, having only allowed four goals in 31 opportunities (88.6 percent).
McLeod has been a staple on the Avalanche penalty kill during his career and said the coaching staff has done a good job of giving the players a scouting report of the opponents' power play.
"I think with our preview, and what we go over with every team," McLeod said of the team's success on the PK. "We are well prepared for them, and it has helped us out so far."
The Avs' shorthanded unit had its biggest stop at the end of the game on Sunday while John Mitchell was serving a tripping penalty at 18:42. Defenseman Brad Stuart was especially strong during the kill as he broke up an odd-man rush and blocked a key shot to help the Avs get a point in the standings.
Despite having a 2-4-3 record, Colorado has picked up points in each of its last three games and currently sits just one point out of the Western Conference playoff picture. The Avs have a chance to make up some ground in the standings over the next two weeks as they enter a stretch of playing five of their next six games at home, beginning Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks
"Looking at our last three games, we have picked up four points. Four of a possible six, we're going in the right direction," Roy said. "We've been playing a lot on the road too, and now we're going to be playing at home the next two games… San Jose is in our conference, and we will have a chance to play a strong game."
Colorado only scored once, but it was enough to continue a couple players' point streaks. With assists on Jamie McGinn's goal, Alex Tanguay (three goals, two assists) and Tyson Barrie (one goal, five assists) extended their season-long streaks. Tanguay is on a five-game point streak while Barrie has collected points in his last four games.
Barrie is now one game shy of tying his career-long streak of five that he set from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3 of last season.
Jarome Iginla (two goals, three assists) and Matt Duchene (two goals, three assists) each had their three-game point streaks come to an end.
JOHNSON INJURY UPDATE
Erik Johnson was hit hard into the corner boards by Winnipeg's Mark Stuart in the third period and was unable to finish the game.
He was able to make it to Avalanche bench under his power after the collision but went across the ice to the Avalanche locker room at the next whistle.
Roy said he hadn't talked to the team's training staff after the game and didn't have an update on Johnson's condition.
REDMOND MAKES RETURN
After getting a game under his belt with the Avalanche last Friday, defenseman Zach Redmond returned home Saturday against the Jets—in an NHL kind of way.
Redmond was drafted by the Winnipeg franchise in 2008 (seventh round, 184th overall) when it was in Atlanta and played his first three professional seasons with the organization. He appeared 18 NHL games with the Jets and 150 games with their AHL affiliate, the St. John's Ice Caps, which included helping the club to the Calder Cup Final last season.
"Anywhere you start your career. You have fond memories," Redmond said before the game. "It's special to come back. I'm looking forward to it."
Redmond was once again paired with Nick Holden, his defensive partner on Friday against Vancouver. He finished with 20:50 of ice time, one shot, four blocked shots and saw time on the power play after Erik Johnson left with an injury in the third period.