Suddenly, the Avalanche is alive and devouring virtually everything in its path.
In response to an eight-game losing skid, the Avs have climbed back in the Western Conference playoff picture by producing points in six of their last eight games — a stretch capped by Wednesday night’s 7-1 victory over the Central Division-leading Winnipeg Jets at the Pepsi Center.
In leapfrogging the Chicago Blackhawks for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, the Avs got goals from seven forwards and another goaltending gem from Semyon Varlamov to beat the Jets in regulation for the second time in less than a week. Carl Soderberg, Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon (power play) and Matt Calvert scored to give the Avs a 4-0 lead and Tyson Jost made it 5-1 to cap a wild, four-goal start to begin the third period.
Left wing and team captain Gabe Landeskog scored off a beautiful feed from Jost late in the third. Jost finished with a career-high three points before rookie A.J. Greer scored his first career NHL goal.
MacKinnon’s goal snapped the Avalanche’s 0-for-29 skid on the power play and Jost’s goal came seconds after a power-play expired.
Colorado downed the Jets 4-1 at Winnipeg on Valentine’s Day to begin a stretch where it has allowed just four non-empty-net goals in four games. The Avs, who were coming off 3-0 triumph over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday, entered the second period Wednesday having not allowed a goal in five consecutive periods, and seven of their last eight.
Winnipeg fell to 2-3-2 in its last six games. The Jets’ goal by Kyle Connor 1:57 into the third period snapped their 0-for-21 skid on the power play.
After a scoreless first period, Soderberg and Rantanen struck at 3:39 and 11:21 of the second, respectively. Soderberg cashed in on Tyson Jost’s rebound and Rantanen capitalized on a terrific back-pass from Matt Nieto. The Soderberg line with wingers Nieto and Rantanen had 12 shots after two periods — Nieto with a team-high five.
The Avs went ahead 3-0 with MacKinnon’s power-play goal just 59 seconds into the third period and Calvert struck just 11 seconds later off the ensuing center-ice faceoff.
The Avalanche has 22 remaining regular-season games and next plays at Chicago to begin a consecutive-night, all-Central Division road trip that concludes Saturday at Nashville.
Footnotes. Varlamov made his eighth consecutive start in goal, and played for 15th time in 17 games. … Forward Colin Wilson missed his fifth consecutive game with an upper-body injury. He skated in a red non-contact injury Wednesday morning, same as defenseman Conor Timmins (head). Defenseman Ian Cole (orbital bone) remains out indefinitely. The Avs’ healthy scratches were forward Gabriel Bourque and defenseman Mark Barberio. … Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien missed his second consecutive game with an upper-body injury.
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