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Jets end six-game losing streak, defeat Avalanche

by Ryan Dittrick (@ryandittrick) / Winnipeg Jets

WINNIPEG – Delivering their best in what Mathieu Perreault considered a “must win,” the Winnipeg Jets did just that.

With authority.

Perreault, Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele combined for eight points, while Ondrej Pavelec made 25 saves as the Jets defeated the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 on Sunday night at MTS Centre.

Perreault, Byfuglien, Ben Chiarot, Bryan Little and Jacob Trouba scored in the victory, snapping a six-game losing streak.

With the win, the Jets improve to 64 points on the year, three up on the Calgary Flames for the first of two wild-card spots, and eight points up on the bubble spot currently occupied by the Minnesota Wild, Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars.

The Jets have now collected points in three straight.

“We’re comfortable with how we’ve looked these last three games. That’s where you want to be this time of year,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said.

“We’re not winning every game down the stretch, but that’s what you want – you want to look at the ice knowing that you did what you’re supposed to do. That way you can keep that emotional level on an even keel."

The Jets got off to a bit of a slow start, surrendering the first goal after falling behind 4-1 in shots.

Avs defenceman Tyson Barrie opened the scoring on a delayed penalty at 10:56, converting a beautiful solo effort that began behind his own net. Cruising into position at the top of the circle, Barrie rifled a shot top shelf on Pavelec, giving the Avalanche a 1-0 lead after the Jets failed to cash on a power-play chance moments earlier.

Shots on goal favoured the Jets 9-6 after one period of play, but the scoreless mark didn’t last long for the home side.

Throttle up, as they say, as a four-goal second period was about to take flight.

Perreault brought the game back on even terms early on, burying a rebound past Semyon Varlamov after Scheifele walked it out and labeled a shot off the pads.

With 18 goals on the year, Perreault has tied a career high with 27 games to play.

“It’s good for our confidence,” he said. “We’ve been working on our defensive side of the game and when we do that [well], that’s when we can create offence.

“They’re one of the teams trying to catch us. At this time of the year, every point is important. We were sitting pretty well before the break and now teams are catching us, so the points are huge tonight.”

The Jets took a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 5:41 as Little’s one-time shot was redirected en route by Byfuglien, giving the defenceman-turned-forward his 13th of the year. Then, with six-and-a-half left in the period, Chiarot extended the lead. Finishing off an odd-man rush with Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn, the rookie evaded a check before hammering home a rebound into the yawning cage, putting the Jets up by two.

“That line (Perreault-Scheifele-Byfuglien) really got us going with a good forecheck and some good puck movement. They have the elements to be very, very good.”

Little rounded out the scoring in the middle frame, whipping a beautiful shot top shelf on a 5-on-3 power-play, giving the hometown team a commanding 4-1 lead.

“Our power-play was clicking tonight,” Little, who has three goals in his last four games and leads the Jets with 21 overall this season, said post-game. “There have definitely been times this season when I haven’t been playing as well, but for the most part, you try and play your best, 100 percent, every night.”

Matt Duchene added one at 7:07 of the third, redirecting a nifty feed from Jarome Iginla, but it wasn’t enough as the Jets added one more – a beauty – for good measure.

With less than 10 minutes to play in regulation, Trouba was the beneficiary of a beautiful three-way passing play with Scheifele and Perreault in tight, pounding a shot into the empty net after he was left uncovered in the slot.

Tic-tac-goal.

The Avs’ leading scorer, Alex Tanguay, added one late but the game was well out of reach.

“The room feels good,” Slater said.” It’s been a long time here for us to outright get a win. The guys are happy, but now we know we’ve got to move on.”

Another one of those teams trying to catch them, the Minnesota Wild, are in town on Tuesday.

LATE HITS: Rookie forward Adam Lowry came down with an illness prior to the game and did not play. Patrice Cormier, who was recalled Thursday from the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, drew in as a result, making his 2014-15 debut.

Cormier finished the night with 4:54 of ice time and was 60 percent on faceoffs.

— Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com

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