Wheeler OT goal lifts Jets to victory over Avalanche
An overtime loss cost Colorado a spot in the standings.
Blake Wheeler scored in overtime on a shot through the crowd to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-4 win against the Avalanche on Wednesday night.
It was the fourth time in five games this season between the Jets and Avalanche that went to overtime. The loss let Chicago slip by Colorado into second place in the Central Division.
"Both teams had good chances," said Avs coach Patrick Roy after Colorado’s second loss in a row. Roy’s homecoming to Montreal ended in a 6-3 loss to the Canadiens Tuesday night.
At the end they made a great play. Wheeler I thought made a really good play and scored a nice goal."
Ryan O’Reilly, Gabriel Landeskog, Nick Holden and Cody Mcleod scored for Colorado. Rookie goaltender Reto Berra made his first start since he was acquired by Colorado from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline.
"I think he made some huge saves in the third when we really needed it the most," said Landeskog, who scored the tying goal for Colorado at the end of the first period to make it 2-2.
"I remember my first game with Colorado, certainly a lot of nerves."
Andrew Ladd scored twice for the injury-depleted Jets. Eric Tangradi and Evander Kane also scored.
Ladd’s second came on a power play at 4:58 in the third period when he was poised near the inside edge of the faceoff circle and caught Wheeler’s pass from the boards to make it 4-3.
"I’ve told you guys a million times, I almost get a bigger joy out of seeing other guys score than scoring myself," said Wheeler, who had two assists.
He has 35 assists and team-leading 24 goals, cementing his position as the Jets’ scoring leader with 59 points.
It was a big night for the Jets as they gained a little more ground in their uphill climb to the playoffs. They are still sit two points behind Dallas and four points behind Phoenix, which now holds the eighth and final wild-card berth.
"It was a big win for us, especially for the goals we gave up," Ladd said. "We’re not that bad of a team. We’ve played some good hockey of late and we haven’t got the results."
Mcleod scored his third goal of the season on Al Montoya to tie it up again for Colorado at 10:23.
Wheeler ended it at 1:42 of overtime with a shot from near the boards that slashed through traffic.
O’Reilly’s first goal came just 20 seconds into the game on a sharp-angled shot that slipped past Montoya but the Jets responded with serious pressure.
They had four shots to Colorado’s two as Ladd evened things up at 3:15 with his 20th of the season, racing in on Reto Berra’s stick side. It was Berra’s first start since he was acquired by Colorado from the Calgary Flames at the trade deadline.
It didn’t help Winnipeg’s chances that defenseman Zach Bogosian joined the lengthy scratch list, which already included Dustin Byfuglien and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, who are listed as day to day. The Jets are chasing a wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Avalanche forward Paul Stastny was out after playing in Montreal on Tuesday following a four-game absence due to injury. They also lost forward John Mitchell in Montreal.
Tangradi put the Jets ahead with his first goal since November and only second of the season as Wheeler swept around the Colorado net, slipped the puck across the crease and Berra didn’t even have time to react before it was over the line.
Colorado came back with several good chances but it wasn’t until 17:47 that Landeskog shoveled in Andre Benoit’s rebound to tie the game going into the second period.
The second period was all Jets. They had outshot the tired-looking Avalanche 8-1. Kane scored at 12:02 as he snapped one from the net side of the left faceoff circle.
But some weak defensive play in their own end in the final minutes finally cost the Jets as Holden flipped a soft one in at 19:29, although Winnipeg outshot Colorado 11-5 in the second period.
Notes: Despite the disparity in their NHL rankings, the Jets and Avalanche went into Wednesday’s game with two wins each in their season series, although Colorado had the only win in regulation time. Even the regulation win was decided by one goal.