Jets crush Avalanche in playoff preview

Sean Monahan scored twice and Connor Hellebuyck was unbeatable with a 31-save shutout as the Winnipeg Jets shellacked the Colorado Avalanche 7-0.

DENVER (AP) — The Winnipeg Jets want to remember this game for everything that went right. Colorado wants to remember it, too, for all that went wrong.

Josh Morrissey and Adam Lowry scored 10 seconds apart in a four-goal first period that chased Colorado goaltender Alexandar Georgiev from the net, and the Jets moved into the driver’s seat for the Central Division’s second seed with a 7-0 win against the Avalanche on Saturday.

With Dallas wrapping up the division title earlier in the day, the stage is set for Colorado and Winnipeg squaring off in the first round of the playoffs. All that remains to sort out is which team has home-ice advantage. The Jets are two points ahead of the Avalanche for the No. 2 spot in the division with two games to play. They also hold the tiebreaker.

Winnipeg just may have found a blueprint as well for keeping in check a speedy Colorado team.

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“That’s not their hockey team,” Jets coach Rick Bowness cautioned. “We know they’re a great hockey team and we know it’s going to be a tough series. … We came out and wanted to play aggressive against them, and we did.”

The Avalanche aren’t looking to turn the page on this game. Not after this outcome.

“You can’t be forgetting why it ended up like that, especially when you have to play them at the most important time of the year,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, whose team has lost three of their last four games. “We’re going to have to remember it. We’re going to have to learn from it, study it, understand it. We’re going to have to be a lot better than that.”

Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his fifth shutout of the season.

Sean Monahan and Lowry each had two goals, while Gabriel Vilardi and Tyler Toffoli also scored to help the Jets extend their win streak to six in a row. Winnipeg led 7-0 after two periods as 10 players had a point. It’s the first time in franchise history the team has scored seven consecutive goals in a game, according to NHL Stats.

Winnipeg finished 3-0 against Colorado this season, outscoring the Avalanche by a 17-4 margin.

“It’s nice to come in here and play really well, but come playoff time we expect a better effort from them,” Lowry said.

Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche entered the game as the league’s highest scoring team (3.72 goals per game) but were bottled up by Hellebuyck. It’s the fifth time the Avalanche have been blanked this season — and first time at home.

“Everything went wrong,” MacKinnon said.

Georgiev allowed four goals on 15 shots before being pulled for Justus Annunen with 4:43 remaining in the opening period. Annunen surrendered three goals on 11 shots as goaltending remains a big question mark for Colorado heading into the post-season.

Monahan opened the scoring 5:59 into the contest as Winnipeg nearly finished the period with as many goals (four) as Colorado had total shots (five).

The goals by Morrissey and Lowry 10 seconds apart tied for the second-fastest two scores in Jets/Atlanta Thrashers history. The fastest two were seven seconds apart on Dec. 2, 2008.

Mikko Rantanen returned to the lineup for Colorado after missing two games while in concussion protocol. Now, defenceman Samuel Girard enters the concussion protocol after leaving in the first period after running into teammate Ross Colton.

“Competitively, we were not where we needed to be,” Colorado’s Andrew Cogliano said. “I feel like we got a good taste of what it’s going to be like in the playoffs.”

UP NEXT

Jets: Host the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday.

Avalanche: Visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday.

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