Having not played a complete game in two weeks, the Colorado Avalanche were hoping to see a familiar face whom they had beaten multiple times already this season to cure their ails when the Winnipeg Jets came calling on the Pepsi Center hosts.
A strong early start by the Jets was negated when a Dustin Byfuglien penalty put the Avalanche on the power play and just seconds later newly-promoted Mikhail Grigorenko would bang home a rebound past Jets netminder Michael Hutchinson for a 1-0 lead.
The Jets would respond like the quality, veteran-laden squad they are by upping their game, pushing the pace of play, and ultimately taking advantage of their opportunities when Andrew Ladd banged home a clearing attempt from Semyon Varlamov late in the period to tie the game at 1-1 heading into intermission.
Continuing their late-period domination, the Jets would continue to outwork the Avalanche with big-bodied Mark Scheifele drilling Tyson Barrie behind the Avs net, forcing an ugly Barrie turnover, and Drew Stafford, alone in front, would beat a helpless Varlamov for the 2-1 Jets lead.
Not content with the one-goal lead, the Avalanche would put the Jets on the power play and see them score a controversial goal that was challenged by Colorado for goaltender interference after Andrew Ladd appeared to make minor contact with Varlamov as the shot from Stafford was coming in. The goal ultimately stood and the Jets went up 3-1. A fiery blow up from Roy would put the Avs back on the PK but nothing came of it.
Matt Duchene, however, would decide to take matters into his own hands as he found a crease in Hutchinson's pad from a sharp angle, squeezing the puck past the Jets goalie to make it 3-2 Jets.
Despite a spirited effort by the Avalanche in the third period, Mathieu Perreault would sink the dagger into the hopes of Colorado's chances of a comeback as he waited out the defense and sniped one past Varlamov to put the Jets up 4-2.
PLAY OF THE GAME
I'm eschewing the less-than-stellar moments from Winnipeg or any of the estimated 34,305 scrums after the whistle in favor of Grigorenko's power play goal. A great moment of joy for a player who has worked so hard for everything this season.
The Stafford goal that made it 3-1, his second of the night, was really the dagger that put the Avs away. Even though they'd make it 3-2, they never seriously threatened again and this slightly controversial goal was the capper.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"I could come with 500 excuses but we're not playing well enough right now and we don't deserve to win those games." -Head Coach Patrick Roy
Colorado's third consecutive loss naturally has harmful consequences as the Nashville Predators were victorious, dropping Colorado below the Preds and into the final Wild Card spot.
The Avalanche have two days off before they head back to work in their chase for the playoffs as they take on the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, February 9. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00PM MST.