The Colorado Avalanche faced off with the Winnipeg Jets for the second time this week and got off to the kind of start you want to see from a host team playing a tired team on the second night of a back-to-back like Winnipeg was.
Blake Comeau made a great play in the neutral zone to spring himself for a breakaway and he made no mistake in beating Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead 6:35 into the game.
The Avalanche would keep their foot on the pedal as Colorado's unstoppable top line cashed in yet again after Francois Beauchemin's shot off the end boards bounced in front of Hutchinson and off Duchene and straight to an open Gabriel Landeskog, who backhanded the puck into net for a 2-0 lead. Colorado would push play for the remainder of the period and head to intermission with a 2-0 lead and all the momentum.
The Avs top line would keep up their absurd production as they dominated play early in the second and Duchene made a great pass to spring Carl Soderberg for a mini-breakaway and Soderberg would out-wait Hutchinson and slip the puck into the net for a 3-0 lead 5:55 into the second period.
The Avalanche would give up the shutout a few minutes later after successfully killing off a penalty but proceeding to be stuck in their own zone against Winnipeg's top line and a Jacob Trouba shot from the point would bounce off Brandon Gormley and then Andrew Ladd to make it 3-1.
A Colorado power play would backfire as Blake Wheeler and Alexander Burmistrov would connect on a 2-on-1 down the ice for a shorthanded goal at 13:37 of the second period to draw the score to 3-2 in favor of the Avs.
The Avs took a lead into the third period, perilous territory for them at home so far this season, and instead of immediately giving up the game-tying goal would actually add another tally as the impressive fourth line would pot a bouncer of a goal credited to Chris Wagner, his second goal of the week.
Winnipeg would get back into the game at 11:54 of the third as Jacob Trouba would smoke a shot past Varlamov to make it 4-3 after Comeau made a desperation play to break up the pass to Trouba. Given the additional space, Trouba showed off the offensive ability that makes him such a dangerous player.
The Avalanche would hang on at the end and Matt Duchene would add an empty-net goal for his third point of the night to bring the game to its final score, 5-3 in favor of Colorado.
1. Gabriel Landeskog - 1 goal, 2 assists
2. Matt Duchene - 1 goal, 2 assists
3. Jacob Trouba - 1 goal, 1 assist
PLAY OF THE GAME
Wagner's second goal of the week would turn out to be just the insurance the Avalanche needed as they did eventually give up a third goal, giving Wagner the game-winning goal.
Blake Wheeler's shorthanded goal proved once again the Avalanche would not take the easy road to victory and would transform the entire tone of the game from an Avs-led affair to a white-knuckling of the third period.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"You just feel that it always has to be the hard way for us but you know what? I like what I've seen. I like the resilience of our guys, the compete level of our guys." - Head Coach Patrick Roy
With the victory, the Avalanche begin to dig themselves out of the basement and move within five points of the Jets for sixth place in the Central Division. Their home record improved to 3-6-1 and their division record improved to 3-1-0.
The Avalanche next can be seen back on the road in the east again as they head to New York for their first venture into Brooklyn to take on the Islanders on Monday, November 30 at 5:00PM MST.