WINNIPEG, MB - The Winnipeg Jets extended their points streak to seven games, and Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves for his fifth shutout of the season as the Jets shutout the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 Saturday night at Bell MTS Place.
The win keeps the Jets (31-13-9) atop the Central Division standings, two points ahead of Nashville and four points ahead of St. Louis, both of which who won on Saturday night.
Patrik Laine, Jack Roslovic, and Nikolaj Ehlers all found the back of the net in the win, while Blake Wheeler added a pair of assists and sits second in the NHL with 44 helpers on the year.
Winnipeg’s power play would strike early. Josh Morrissey was tripped by Mikko Rantanen just 1:23 into the opening frame. It would take just over a minute into the man advantage for the Jets to find the back of the net when Blake Wheeler fed a pass through the Avalanche penalty killers and find Patrik Laine in his wheelhouse in the left circle who one-timed a shot past Varlamov to give the Jets the 1-0 lead after the first. It was Laine’s team-leading 24th tally of the season, and 13th power play goal, which ties him with Evgeni Malkin for tops in the NHL.
The second period wasn’t busy on the scoresheet, but both teams had plenty of chances. The Jets outshot Colorado 13-4 in the period, but the best chance went to the Avalanche. With the Jets on the power play, Matt Nieto and Gabriel Bourque broke in 2-on-0 but Bourque would fire his shot well over the net to negate the chance.
Nikolaj Ehlers, who came into the game without a goal in his previous eight games, had a glorious chance to find the back of the net on a breakaway, but the puck slid through Varlamov’s legs and hit the post, keeping the score at 1-0 after two.
Winnipeg would add to their lead with Jack Roslovic finding the back of the net, with the back of his pants, after a shot from Blake Wheeler hit Roslovic and the puck sailed over top of Varlamov, giving the Jets an insurance marker 5:17 into the third period.
The Avalanche, who are without their star forward Nathan MacKinnon for the next two to four weeks with an upper-body injury, weren’t able to generate many scoring chances during the contest and when they did, Hellebuyck was there.
Ehlers would ice the game with just 18 seconds left, stealing the puck at the Avalanche blueline and firing it into the empty-net, snapping his eight-game goal drought and giving Winnipeg a 3-0 win.
Semyon Varlamov – who returned to the Avalanche lineup after missing 10 games - gave Colorado a chance to get back into the game. The veteran netminder finished the night with 29 saves as the Avalanche (28-19-4) wrapped up their season-long, six-game road trip with a loss.
Hellebuyck picked up his fifth shutout of the season and 15th of his career. The win improves Hellebuyck’s record to 27-6-8, including 17-1-2 at Bell MTS Place.
The win didn’t come without it’s casualties for Winnipeg. Matt Hendricks left the game in the first period and Brandon Tanev left the game in the third period with upper-body injuries and did not return..
With the win the Jets have garnered five out of a possible six points in the first three games of a season-long 10-game homestand. Winnipeg has points in seven consecutive games (5-0-2) and nine consecutive home games (8-0-1).
Winnipeg will now take a day off on Sunday before they get set to welcome the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
Bill Burfoot, Manitoba post