March 12, 2016 Game 70
MTS Centre Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Coming into tonight's road game, the Colorado Avalanche sat two points ahead of the Minnesota Wild in the race for the final playoff spot. Against a team that has given them fits in recent years but is languishing near the bottom of the league standings in the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado had an excellent opportunity to reduce the Wild's magic number to elimination by two more points.
A scoreless first period would increase the pressure on the Avalanche as both teams exchanged scoring chances but were denied by goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Ondrej Pavelec.
The second period would provide some fireworks as the Avalanche got on the board first as Matt Duchene made a great play in the defensive zone to chip the puck around a pinching Dustin Byfuglien, chased down the puck and found the trailing Erik Johnson open in the slot. Johnson would beat Pavelec for his tenth goal of the season and the 1-0 lead.
The Avalanche would go on a power play moments later and a scramble in front of the net after an incredible desperation save by Pavelec would see Matt Duchene slide the puck into the net for a 2-0 lead. Colorado would then do as they so often do with a lead and take their foot of the gas.
Varlamov was able to stand tall and keep the Jets off the board for a while but a lazy Cody McLeod penalty would put Winnipeg on their third power play of the period and white-hot Mark Scheifele would make it 2-1, his tenth goal in his last 12 games, and the game would enter the second intermission with the Jets down just one.
The third period would go as too many have for the Avalanche lately as they gave up the tying goal to Drew Stafford just seven minutes into the period. Disaster would really strike as 90 seconds would pass before the Jets would take the lead on an Adam Lowry goal.
A Colorado power play with under 3 minutes to play and the extra attacker on would yield no results and the Jets would hang on to win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The Lowry goal, started by an awful neutral zone turnover by Zach Redmond, might be a play the Avs spend all summer thinking about.
Stafford's goal would tie the game and send the Avalanche into a tailspin they would fail to recover from.
BY THE NUMBERS
The loss, coupled with Minnesota's win over the Montreal Canadiens tonight, means the two teams are tied in points again and Minnesota has one game in hand while Colorado still has the ROW advantage, 32-31. This race couldn't get any closer than this.
The Avalanche have three days off before they are due to take on the Vancouver Canucks on the road on Wednesday, March 16. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 pm MST.