WINNIPEG – It was the one that slipped away.
The Winnipeg Jets were the dominant team for much of the night, but they just couldn’t break through and cash on their abundant offensive zone time.
Cody McLeod broke a 1-1 tie at 6:45 of the third period as the Colorado Avalanche went on to defeat the Jets 4-1 win Monday at MTS Centre.
Former Jet Zach Redmond fired a shot from the top of the circle, with the rebound deflecting in off the right skate of the gritty forward, who was standing in the blue paint.
Matt Duchene iced it with 3:49 to play, sliding a shot five-hole on a partial breakaway orchestrated by Tyson Barrie.
Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau (EN) had the others for the Avs, while Toby Enstrom scored the lone goal for the home side. Michael Hutchinson made 25 saves in a losing effort.
With the loss, the Jets’ two-game winning streak is halted, giving them a 10-10-2 record overall.
“All we need to do is keep focusing on playing that way for 60 minutes. That’s the game, and I’m not sure it’s going to look any better (without) getting pucks behind their goaltender,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “That’s as much time as we’ve had all year through two periods. I thought there was a possible cost to that second. We had so much time and motion and it was all well and good, but we didn’t get enough to the net. We tried to change that even more in the third, but nothing came of it.”
Hutchinson – the Jets’ new No. 1 netminder – was the story of the period, stopping all nine shots he faced, including a dandy off McLeod as the Avalanche barrelled in off the rush. Hutchinson made the initial save off Blake Comeau, then slid across and made a gargantuan sliding stop with the right pad to keep the game scoreless, until Enstrom snapped a personal 41-game goal drought seconds later.
The defenceman’s long shot through traffic somehow found its way through, sailing high, short side on Semyon Varlamov at 13:39. Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd picked up the assists.
The shots were even at nine apiece after 20 minutes.
“We had a lot of good chances,” Hutchinson said. “If we keep moving the puck around that crisp and keep getting as many chances as we did, the puck’s going to find its way into the net more often than not. We have to keep going and keep our confidence up.”
The Jets were the dominant team in the front half of the middle frame, firing 21 shots the way of the goaltender, but only seven landed on target.
The Avalanche outshot the Jets 5-0 from the midway point on, tying the game with a lucky one late on the power play. Soderberg drove wide off the rush and delivered a backhander into the goalmouth, bouncing it off the left knee of Tyler Myers and in for the equalizer at 16:43.
“You don’t come out of too many losses thinking you deserve to win the game, but did a lot of good things tonight,” Myers said. “We controlled the puck in their end. I thought we could have done a better job of getting pucks to the net, but there’s a lot of positives to take away from tonight’s game.”
Enstrom was assessed a four-minute double minor for high sticking late in the period, but the Jets came up with a big kill as three minutes of it carried over into the third period.
The Avs scored three in the final 13:15, while outshooting the Jets 13-5 to claim victory.
“I felt as though we were in control for the majority of it. They just happened to bury their chances,” Drew Stafford said.
“It’s just an unfortunate way to lose. … I think we did a lot of good things in the game, so I think it’s a matter of forgetting about the score, moving on and focusing more on the process. It’s a tough one, but we have to go on the road. We’re going to have a few more like this. There are no easy games and we’ll see these guys again at the end of the week.”
The Jets will now head out on the road for three straight beginning Wednesday in Washington, DC.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com