DENVER — Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Calvert scored 11 seconds apart in the third period, Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves in another strong performance and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 on Wednesday night.
Carl Soderberg, Mikko Rantanen, Tyson Jost, Gabriel Landeskog and A.J. Greer also scored to help Colorado win two in a row for the first time since late November. In addition, MacKinnon’s power-play goal snapped an 0-for-29 dry spell on the man advantage.
Varlamov followed a 40-save shutout performance Monday by clamping down on the Jets. The only score Varlamov allowed was to Kyle Connor with Colorado staked to a 4-0 lead.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 39 shots for the Jets, who lost to the Avalanche for the second time inside of a week.
MacKinnon and Calvert broke things open early in the third with the fastest back-to-back goals for the Avalanche this season. On Winnipeg’s lone goal, Varlamov froze the puck and the whistle blew before it slid through his pads. The officials reviewed the play and awarded the goal.
Things got testy midway in the third when Avalanche defenceman Nikita Zadorov and Jets centre Mark Scheifele got into a brief skirmish. Both were sent to the box for roughing. Zadorov later squared off with forward Adam Lowry.
Soderberg and Rantanen gave Colorado a 2-0 advantage in the second period. That was plenty for Varlamov, who was making his eighth straight appearance in net.
The Avalanche recently split up their top line of Landeskog, MacKinnon and Rantanen to bolster a stagnant offence. It’s paying off with Colorado scoring 10 goals over the last two games.
Landeskog hit the crossbar with a wrist shot and Jost had a close-in attempt tipped over the net by a Winnipeg defender’s stick during a scoreless first period. Other than that, it was the Hellebuyck and Varlamov Show. They matched each other with one big save after another.
It’s been a bumpy ride for the Avalanche, who have gone from challenging for the Central Division lead in December to falling out of a playoff spot after a rough stretch and now working their way back into the thick of a playoff chase.
“Right where we want to be — destiny’s in our hands,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We’ve got a lot of season yet to go. This is going to go right down to the bitter end.”
NOTES: Jets D Dustin Byfuglien was out for a second straight game with a lower body injury. … Avalanche F Colin Wilson missed a fifth straight game with an upper body injury. … D Ian Cole sat out a seventh straight game with an upper body injury. He turns 30 on Thursday. … Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, Jost and Soderberg each had two assists. … It was Greer’s first NHL goal.
Jets: The second of three straight road games will be Friday at Vegas.
Avalanche: At Chicago on Friday before playing in Nashville on Saturday.
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Pat Graham, The Associated Press