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Morrissey, Little score but Jets fall to Avalanche in overtime

Jets now 5-1-1 against Central Division opponents

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton / WinnipegJets.com

Video: POSTGAME | JetsTV Road Report

DENVER, Colorado - A span of 14 games in 27 days came to an end Wednesday night in Colorado with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Avalanche.

But Josh Morrissey says the schedule isn't an excuse.

"We had a tougher schedule last year. It is what it is, and that's what we get paid to do is take care of our bodies," said Morrissey.

"I don't think that's an excuse at all. It wasn't a pretty game tonight, but we found a way to get it to overtime and give ourselves a chance to win."

Morrissey and Bryan Little provided the offence for the Jets, while Alexander Kerfoot and Nikita Zadorov scored in regulation, with Nathan MacKinnon getting the overtime winner on the power play.

"Based on the way the game was played, I'm not saying that we think we're lucky, I don't think we were. We had a lot of offence, we just couldn't get a handle on a lot of things tonight," said head coach Paul Maurice. "It was a tough game for them to grind through. They worked at it, they competed hard, it was a hard grinding game, it just wasn't sharp."

Video: WPG@COL: Little jams home a rebound in front

MacKinnon's eighth of the season, and game winner, came shortly after an offside challenge negated Colorado's first goal of the extra period.

The Avalanche assistant captain took a pass from Kerfoot at the left wing circle, and his shot went off Morrissey and past Connor Hellebuyck, who made 23 saves on 26 shots.

"Going into overtime 4-on-3, they have a lot of skill. I thought we had a pretty good plan. We got fortunate with the offside," said Morrissey. "Tried to come back, and the shot went off my back side and in. We found a way to at least get a point and grind ourselves into a chance to win."

The Jets opened the scoring after some great cycle work in the offensive zone from the Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor line. Then with Andrew Copp providing the screen, Morrissey's blast on a pass from Scheifele found twine.

It was the defenceman's third of the year.

"It was a grinding game. I thought both teams had momentum at points. We had some chances and they had some chances," said Morrissey. "It's unfortunate the way it ended, but it's one of those games. It's a grinding game, and we gave ourselves a chance to win."

Video: WPG@COL: Morrissey rips one-timer home from the point

It didn't take long for Colorado to respond though, as the league's fifth best home power play went to work after Connor was sent off for playing with a broken stick.

MacKinnon's initial shot hit Hellebuyck in the mask and broke a strap on the back side. While the mask was sliding off, Kerfoot found the rebound, and knocked it in with a backhand.

After a scoreless second period, Nikolaj Ehlers used the open ice available during a stretch of four-on-four to get the Jets back in front.

Starting from his own end, Ehlers flew up the ice, and after evading a couple Colorado defenders drove to the net. The initial shot was stopped, but Bryan Little was there to bang in the rebound before Varlamov could cover it, putting the Jets up 2-1.

Little now has eight points in nine games since Nov. 14.

"That's kind of what they gave you. That's all you could get against them," Little said of the rebound goal, his fifth of the season.

"They were good at shutting you down off the rush. That one was what we were trying to do later in the game. Just throw pucks at the net and go there for a rebound and try to bang something home. That's really all we had most of the night."

Zadorov would bring it back to even terms though, shortly after the Avalanche killed off a Mark Barberio penalty. Zadorov took a pass in the neutral zone, and with Tyler Myers providing a bit of a screen, the Avalanche defencemen sent a wrist shot past Hellebuyck's blocker.

Video: WPG@COL: Hellebuyck turns away Nieto with blocker

With seven seconds left in regulation, the Jets were called for too many men, setting the stage for MacKinnon's overtime winner.

The loss drops the Jets to 15-6-4, one point back of the Central Division lead, held by the St. Louis Blues.

"We're all happy with the start we're having, but the biggest thing is not getting complacent, and not being satisfied with what we've done. There's a lot of hockey left, and a lot of things can happen," said Little.

"We know every game is important right now. That's what we've done a good job at, I'm sure we're going to put this one behind us pretty quick and move on to the next one."

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