Avalanche set to deliver huge blow vs. Jets

By Thomson Reuters Apr 27, 2024 | 2:45 PM

After a less-than-ideal start to the playoffs for the Colorado Avalanche, they now are in control of a first-round Western Conference series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Colorado lost the series opener 7-6 behind shaky goaltending from Alexandar Georgiev. That setback is all but a memory now with a chance for a 3-1 series lead when the Avalanche host the Jets for Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.

The Avalanche rolled to a 6-2 victory in Game 3 at home on Friday.

A big concern for the Jets is the status of defenseman Brenden Dillon, who came away with a laceration on his left hand from a fracas after time expired Friday night. Dillon was tangled up with Avalanche forward Brandon Duhaime at the bottom of a scrum, got up and skated to the locker room with blood dripping from the back of his hand.

Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness didn’t have an update on Dillon postgame, saying he is being evaluated by the medical staff.

“Scary, scary situation there,” Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said after the game. “I don’t really have anything to say, but we’re all really concerned for him and just hoping everything’s OK.”

Colorado has used its relentless speed to create offensive chances and force the Jets to scramble in their own zone. The constant pressure has allowed the Avalanche to rally to win the last two games, including Friday night’s five-goal outburst in the third period.

“We gave them a lot of time on the power play, and they’ve got a bunch of elite players on that unit, and they capitalized,” Morrissey said. “So, we got to do a better job of trying to stay out of the box.”

Colorado has looked more like the team that rolled to the Stanley Cup title two years ago than the one that flamed out in the first round to the Seattle Kraken last season.

The difference has been the additions of Casey Mittelstadt, Ross Colton, Miles Wood and 39-year-old Zach Parise, who signed in February for one last shot at a ring. The four have combined for six goals and five assists in the series, taking the pressure off the top line.

“Last year, we had no goals outside of our top three forwards and defensemen,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We’re a deeper team. There’s no question about it.”

Wood and Colton were acquired in the offseason, and young, talented defenseman Bowen Byram was sent to Buffalo for Mittelstadt, who has given Colorado a legitimate No. 2 center that was missing since Nazem Kadri left in free agency.

The depth has paid off. After scoring just four goals in three regular-season games against the Jets, Colorado has 17 in this series.

Bowness is not panicking about being down in the series.

“There’s three series out East that are 3-zip. We’re 2-1,” he said. “They won a game in our rink. We have to come in here and win a game in their rink. It’s as simple as that. Our focus now is getting ready for Sunday afternoon.”

–Field Level Media