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game recap

Stafford, Jets defeat Avalanche

Winnipeg wins for first time in three games

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com Correspondent

Stafford's second goal

WPG@COL: Stafford beats Varlamov for a two-goal lead

2/6/16: Drew Stafford wrists his second goal of the game past Semyon Varlamov on the power play, putting the Jets on top by two in the 2nd

  • 01:48 •

 

DENVER -- Drew Stafford had two goals and an assist to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Saturday. 

Stafford, who had gone eight games without a goal, scored his 15th and 16th of the season in the second period to help Winnipeg build a 3-1 lead.

Goalie Michael Hutchinson, in his first start since Jan. 3, made 32 saves for the Jets (23-26-3). He relieved Connor Hellebuyck on Friday in Winnipeg's 5-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. 

"We needed a response tonight, especially the way last night went," Stafford said. "Where we are in the standings (last in the Central Division), we need these points. For us to come out and have an effort like we did tonight is huge for us." 

The Avalanche (27-24-4) are 0-2-1 in the first three of a four-game homestand. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov, in his first start since Jan. 23, made 35 saves. 

"I would say since the All-Star break we haven't played a good game," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We're not sharp, and it's too bad because it comes at the wrong moment. We put ourselves in a playoff spot and we had a chance with three games at home to start where we left off. We should be disappointed right now. We cannot be happy about the way we've been playing in the last three games. We're making too many mistakes." 

The win was the first for the Jets in four games against the Avalanche this season (1-3-0). 

Video: WPG@COL: Ladd collects Varlamov's clear to tie game

"The whole year we've played them well," said Jets left wing Andrew Ladd, who scored late in the first period to tie it 1-1. "There were a couple of games we couldn't put the puck in the net and they were able to hold on for the win. Tonight, we got some key goals, we got a power-play goal, and that was the difference." 

Mathieu Perreault gave the Jets a 4-2 lead at 9:17 of the third period. He skated into the Avalanche end after taking a pass from Stafford, stopped and moved between the circles before shooting the puck by Varlamov's right shoulder for his eighth goal. 

The Avalanche had closed to 3-2 at 14:12 of the second period on Matt Duchene's 24th goal. Defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk passed to Duchene along the goal line on the right side, and he scored to the short side. 

Stafford scored his first goal at 2:54 of the second to break a 1-1 tie. Mark Scheifele was behind the net on the right side when he slid the puck to Stafford on the left. Stafford faked a shot, moved to his right and beat Varlamov to the blocker side. 

Video: WPG@COL: Stafford patiently waits to net wrister

Stafford scored from the slot on a power play at 10:37. Varlamov stumbled a bit after Ladd made contact with him before the puck entered the net, and Roy used his challenge, asking for goalie interference. 

When the goal was allowed to stand, Roy argued with referee Wes McCauley, and the Avalanche were assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba went off for hooking eight seconds later, though, leaving each team down a skater for the next 1:52. 

"They think that [Varlamov] bumped into their player," Roy said. "I guess we didn't agree on that part. It was a tough call, for sure. From my point of view, it's clear that [Ladd] made a step backward, or at least sideways, and that was just enough to prevent [Varlamov] from making the save." 

Stafford said that Ladd's screen was a perfectly legal play. 

"He's outside the crease, that's his ice," Stafford said. "I knew that the call on the ice was going to stand because two feet out of the crease, that's his ice. It didn't seem like he touched Varlamov anyway. It seemed like it went through a few guys. It was a great screen in front." 

Mikhail Grigorenko gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 5:40 of the first period, nine seconds after Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was penalized for tripping Gabriel Landeskog. Jarome Iginla took a shot from the middle of the right circle, the puck deflected off a player in front, and Grigorenko skated in to knock it by Hutchinson for his fourth goal. 

Video: WPG@COL: Grigorenko finds rebound for the early lead

The Avalanche were 3-for-34 on the power play in the previous 12 games. The Jets have allowed a power-play goal in six of their past seven games. 

The Jets tied it 1-1 at 18:07 on Ladd's 13th goal. Byfuglien took a shot from the right point that Varlamov stopped, but he swept the puck with his stick right to Ladd, who was along the goal line and put it inside the right post. 

"There wasn't much room," said Ladd, who has a goal in three consecutive games. "I kind of got lucky, I think it was going straight across and it went off his skate and in. 

"It was a matter of sticking with our game. They had that first power-play goal, it's easy to get deflated, especially on a back-to-back night, but we did a good job of battling back. The first one was big in terms of getting energy on our bench. We stuck with it and throughout the night we had a lot of great pressure in their end." 

Video: Stafford leads Jets past Avalanche

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