Kyle Connor scored twice, Connor Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots in his 250th career win and the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-2 on Thursday night.
The Jets won their third straight coming off a three-game skid. Also, third-place Winnipeg moved within two points of Central Division-leading Colorado.
“We talked about it this morning – if we want to be considered an elite team, you’ve got to beat the teams ahead of you,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “We proved tonight that we can play with anybody.”
Josh Morrissey finished with a goal and an assist for Winnipeg, giving him 12 points in his last nine games. Adam Lowry also scored.
Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and assist and Joel Kiviranta also scored for Colorado. Alexandar Georgiev finished with 24 saves.
MacKinnon extended his overall point streak to 10 games and home point streak to 12. It was the 223rd multi-point game of MacKinnon’s career, moving him past Peter Forsberg and into third place in franchise history.
“I thought he was outstanding,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We’ve got to get more guys going in the same direction. We’re kind of hit and miss throughout our lineup for the last little bit. It’s costing us.”
Thursday’s win marked the 15th consecutive game that the Jets didn’t allow more than three goals, a stretch in which they’re giving up only 2.13 goals per game, the second-best mark in the NHL during that period. A team that had the worst road penalty kill percentage in the league this season held the high-powered Avalanche scoreless on their four power-play opportunities, which included a 5-on-3 advantage.
“Anytime you can kind of hold off a team that’s throwing (Mikko) Rantanen, MacKinnon and (Cale) Makar out there, you’ve got to feel good about yourself,” Lowry said.
Winnipeg never trailed and built a two-goal lead on three different occasions.
Lowry started the scoring with a buzzer-beating goal with two seconds remaining in the first period off Axel Jonsson-Fjallby’s first assist of the season. The goal was set up by an uncharacteristic giveaway by Devon Toews on a pass to MacKinnon near the Avalanche goal.
After Connor’s first goal extended the advantage to 2-0, the Avalanche cut into its deficit with MacKinnon’s 10th goal of the season. Morrissey then scored on a blistering slap shot, with Georgiev’s view obstructed by teammate Sam Malinski.
“I felt like we handed them some goals tonight,” Bednar said. “We didn’t make them earn them.”
Two days after recording his 500th career assist, MacKinnon sent a backhanded pass to Kiviranta, who crashed the net and got the puck past Hellebuyck with 31 seconds remaining in the second period, pulling Colorado within a goal. Both Bowness and Hellebuyck said they thought there was goalie interference on the play.
Connor added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the win.
Hellebuyck is just the eighth U.S.-born goaltender to reach 250 wins and the eighth active goaltender to do so, regardless of nationality.
Colorado was without right wing Valeri Nichushkin, who missed his second consecutive game with an illness.
“I think that’s what a good playoff team is made of,” Hellebuyck said. “Those are the games you get yourselves into quite a bit if you’re a contending team.”
Jets: At Anaheim in the second game of a four-game road swing.
Avalanche: Host Philadelphia on Saturday in the third game of a five-game homestand.