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Johnson scores late in OT to lift Avalanche past Jets

Defenseman wins it with 9.9 seconds remaining after Winnipeg ties it in final minute

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- Erik Johnson scored on a breakaway with 9.9 seconds left in overtime to give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

"Mikko [Rantanen] blocked a shot and poked it ahead to me," said Johnson, who beat goalie Connor Hellebuyck for his sixth goal. "I just took it and kept going and was able to find the back of the net. As a defenseman, you don't get too many breakaways, so I wanted to make it count."

Johnson lost the puck earlier in overtime, springing Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien on a breakaway, but goalie Jonathan Bernier got a piece of his shot at 2:19 and deflected the puck out of danger.

 

[WATCH: All Jets vs. Avalanche highlights]

 

"I had a little bit of stumble there and they had a breakaway, so it was nice to see them not end it there," Johnson said.

Bernier made five of his 22 saves in overtime after relieving Semyon Varlamov (21 saves), who sustained a lower-body injury with 5:45 remaining in the second period. The Avalanche had a 2-0 lead when Varlamov left as the Jets were about to go on a power play, but they weren't able to convert it.

Video: WPG@COL: Varlamov denies Ehlers' with glove save

"It's never an easy situation, but that's part of the job," Bernier said. "I thought we played a really good game. It's not easy to come in when you're starting on the [penalty kill], but it got me going right away."

Said Johnson: "It was nice to get a win for Bernier. Try sitting on the bench for two hours and coming in cold and trying to stop their power play. Give a huge credit to him. He deserves a whole lot of credit for the way he played."

Blake Wheeler scored two third-period goals for the Jets (23-11-7), who are 3-0-1 in their past four games. He scored his second with 32.2 seconds remaining to tie the game 2-2 after Hellebuyck (23 saves) went to the bench for a sixth skater.

"Big-time player, right?" Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "We cut down to three lines, so they ran hard there toward the end of the game. Such a fit man that he can push hard."

The Jets closed to 2-1 on a power-play goal by Wheeler 47 seconds into the third when he deflected in Patrik Laine's shot to end the Avalanche's penalty-killing streak at 36 covering parts of 12 games.

Video: WPG@COL: Wheeler tips Laine's shot under Bernier

Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon scored in the second period for the Avalanche (20-16-3), who have won three games in a row and are 3-1-0 to begin a six-game homestand.

Video: WPG@COL: MacKinnon dangles, feeds Rantanen for goal

"It's a big win for us," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "It's a big win for us in the standings. It's a big win for us because it's the top team in the division at this point. They've been playing really well.

"Our guys stuck with it. It wasn't our fanciest game or best game of the year, but we did a good job. We had a lot of guys playing hard."

MacKinnon scored his 17th goal, one more than he had last season, at 7:44 for a 1-0 lead. Rantanen, who had two assists, was behind the net when he passed in front to MacKinnon for a shot past Hellebuyck's extended left leg.

MacKinnon set up Rantanen's goal at 11:31 to make it 2-0. MacKinnon made a move on Winnipeg's Joel Armia in the slot and passed to Rantanen, who scored from the right side of the net.

"He's easy to play with, easy to read off of," MacKinnon said of Rantanen. "It's a big two points. We needed the extra point. We're battling for a playoff spot and we're closing in on some teams."

 

Goal of the game

Johnson's breakaway goal with 9.9 seconds left in overtime.

Video: WPG@COL: Johnson scores on breakaway in overtime

 

Save of the game

Bernier stopping Byfuglien on a breakaway at 2:19 of overtime.

Video: WPG@COL: Bernier denies Byfuglien in OT

 

Highlight of the game

Wheeler's game-tying goal with 32.2 seconds left in third period.

Video: WPG@COL: Wheeler ties game late with his second goal

 

They said it

"I think what it says about our team is we're maturing. We understand the importance of the home stretch we've been on. Like we talked about, we have to make sure we take advantage of that. There's going to come a time when we have to go on the road. I would say it's been good, solid performances and well-played hockey by our team for the most part." -- Avalanche coach Jared Bednar

 

"I thought we deserved more. Sick of these overtime losses. I know this isn't how playoffs are going to go, but I'd like to have these points." -- Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck on their 0-6 record in overtime

 

Need to know

The Avalanche need two wins and five points to match their totals of 22 wins and 48 points last season. ... Colorado is 8-3-1 in its past 12 games. ... Wheeler has four goals and two assists in a four-game point streak. ... MacKinnon has two goals and six assists in a three-game point streak.

 
What's next

Jets: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Friday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Avalanche: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Video: Johnson scores late in OT as Avalanche beat Jets, 3-2

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