Scheifele extends point streak, Jets defeat Avalanche

Winnipeg got goals from Drew Stafford and Adam Lowry in the third period to edge the Colorado Avalanche 3-2.

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice says it was some of the best hockey of Mark Scheifele‘s career.

Scheifele’s power-play goal sparked a Jets three-goal rally in Saturday night’s 3-2 comeback victory over the Colorado Avalanche. That’s saying something considering the recent tear the 22-year-old has been on since sliding into the Jets’ No. 1 centre spot last month.

“We’ve talked about Mark Scheifele for about three weeks because he’s scoring all these points,” said Maurice. “That was his finest game in the last three weeks regardless of the hat trick (on March 5) or any of the other games. He played a fantastic game down low — hard game down low. And then scores the goal. That’s as good a game as I’ve seen Mark play in a long, long time.”

Scheifele’s goal and assist against Colorado extends his scoring streak to seven games where the soon-to-be 23-year-old has seven goals and four assists. Since the injury to Bryan Little on Feb. 18 when Scheifele began centring Winnipeg’s top line, he has 10 goals and 18 points, including five multi-point games.

“I’ve been playing the same hockey,” said Scheifele. “Every day I want to become a better hockey player. Obviously I’ve taken this challenge with a lot of motivation being with (Little) out. I obviously come to the rink with a lot more motivation knowing I’ll be playing tougher players in tougher matchups.”

The Jets (28-35-5) scored three unanswered Saturday, with Colorado’s Matt Duchene assisting on Erik Johnson‘s 10th of the season before scoring to make it 2-0. Duchene’s two-point night puts him at 29 goals and 26 assists to lead the Avalanche (35-31-4) in scoring.

“You never have it in the bag in this league,” said Duchene, whose power-play goal snapped a 17-for-17 penalty-killing streak for Winnipeg, dating back six games. “It’s an unfortunate loss to a team that, you know, we should be more desperate than. They played well, but we have to find a way to win that game.”

“We’ve got to be better defensively,” added Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. “We made some mistakes at key moments, and it was a bad turnover on the third goal. We need to be better in those moments of the game.”

Adam Lowry‘s winner snapped a 17-game goal-less drought for the Jets centre, and Drew Stafford‘s 18th goal on the year tied the game in the third.

“I think we scored a huge goal on the power play by Scheifele to get us right back in it,” said Lowry. “Then their line goes out there and gets another big goal from (Stafford). They’ve been carrying us offensively for the last few weeks, for sure.”

The Jets entered Saturday with a record of 0-25-3 when trailing after 40 minutes.

“(Sportsnet’s) Arash (Madani) just told me out there, the last two seasons we were 1-44-7 after trailing after two (periods). It’s good to beat the odds, for sure,” said Schiefele of the comeback. “It shows us that if we stick to our game plan and we don’t try to open anything up, being down a goal, it shows that the game plan works. The way that we played in the first two periods, even though we were down by one, it works.”

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec stopped 35-of-37 for the Jets, improving his record to 8-11-2 on his injury-shortened season, while Semyon Varlamov finished with 27 saves to fall to 24-18-3 on the year.

Colorado’s loss, combined with Minnesota’s 4-1 win over Montreal on Saturday, bumps the Avalanche out of the final Wild card spot in the Western Conference as they continue a western Canadian road swing through Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton this week.

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