The Winnipeg Jets, who had a winning streak of three games, travelled to Ball Arena in Denver Thursday night. But they ran into the offensive juggernaut that is the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado won 7-1 against Winnipeg thanks to three goals in the second and third periods. This was their 10th consecutive home win.
It was the Jets’ first trip to Denver since New Year’s Eve 2019, long enough ago that the venue was still known as the Pepsi Center. Despite a fast start by Winnipeg, with a goal early in the first period, and an aggressive style of play throughout the contest, they couldn’t match the speed and skill of the Avalanche.
These are the three main takeaways.
Avalanche’s Big Stars Shine Bright
Colorado’s top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and team captain Gabriel Landeskog accounted for five of Colorado’s seven goals. Landeskog scored a hat trick, MacKinnon had four assists and a goal, while Rantanen had two assists and a goal. It was Landeskog’s fourth career hat trick, and the third time in MacKinnon’s career, he had a five-point game.
Landeskog is quietly enjoying the best season in his career. He averages 1.38 points per match with 33 points in 24 games. His previous best season was 2018-19, when he scored 75 in 73 games for an average score of 1.03 points per match. It was the only season in his career where he had a better average than a single point per game. If he stays healthy for the rest of this year’s campaign, he’s on pace for 101 points, which would shatter his previous best, the 75 points in 2018-19.
But Landeskog’s value extends beyond tallying points, as he has established himself as an elite presence on the ice. He is 24th in NHL scoring points, but his 49 penalty minutes rank him ninth. He is the only player on the list with more than 24 points. (Brad Marchand, of the Boston Bruins, ranks 10th with 47 PIM & 31 points.
MacKinnon’s goal broke a streak of five games without a goal, which was his second-longest streak of the season. He went nine games without scoring a goal between Oct. 26 and Dec. 6. MacKinnon was able to assist nine times in the five-game stretch. Tonight, MacKinnon has scored five goals and five assists, giving him a total of 14 points in six games. His 33 total points this season (four goals, 29 assists) tie him with Landeskog, though MacKinnon has played five fewer games than his team’s captain and a minimum of seven fewer games than every player ahead of him on the list of league leaders. In fact, MacKinnon’s 1.65 points per game average is Best in the NHLConnor McDavid (1.61 per game), Leon Draisaitl (1.56) and Nazem Kalri (1.56) are ahead.
Kadri and defenseman Bowen Byram scored Colorado’s other two goals. The Avalanche’s very productive defensive corps had a goal and four assists on the night.
Kuemper Standing on His Head
The only glaring weakness for the Avalanche this season has been the team’s penalty kill (PK). Heading into play, Colorado’s PK ranked 28th in the league. Eight penalties were committed by the Avalanche, which resulted in five power plays for Jets, and three in the third. Other than allowing a power-play goal by Mark Scheifele early in the first period, goaltender Darcey Kuemper was the team’s best penalty killer for the rest of the contest.
Related: Penalty Kill Fixing Targeted By 3 Avalanche Trading
The netminder for the Avalanche stopped 34 of 35 shots overall, 15 in the third period and four on a power play. His greatest save came against the Jets’ three-on-1 rush early in the second quarter. He moved from his left side to right to stop an excellent scoring chance.
Kuemper has made a good start to the season. After a inconsistent start, Kuemper has found his rhythm. Kuemper conceded two goals in each of three contests before this game. This raises his save percentage up to.908.
Avalanche Offense for Historic Pace
It was the 11th time Colorado has scored five or more goals this season and the seventh time they’ve scored seven goals. The Avalanche have a solid chance of making a strong run in the Central Division. They are healthy and have a light January schedule. Tonight’s win gives the Avalanche 42 points, good enough for third in the division, only one point behind the second-place St. Louis Blues, and two points behind the division-leading Nashville Predators.
With the seven goals, Colorado’s average goal score per game improved to 4.3. This is better than the 5.41 goals scored per game by the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins. The 1983-84 Quebec Nordiques averaged 4.5 goals per match, which is the best franchise record.
Game Notes and Up Next
The Jets’ head coach Dave Lowry suffered only one loss in five contests. Nominated interim head coachPaul Maurice abruptly resigned on December 17. Lowry’s son Adam plays center for Winnipeg.
Ryan Murray, Avalanche defenseman, was back in the lineup for the first-time since Nov. 27,
Saturday’s action will see the Avalanche back in action at their home, as they seek to retaliate against Auston Matts and the Toronto Maple Leafs who defeated Colorado 8-3 last December.