WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Connor Hellebuyck gave his teammates all the credit for helping look good as he picked up his latest shutout.
“They’re bringing it every night and you can tell,” Hellebuyck said. “Guys are getting a little banged up, that means they’re blocking shots and doing the right things. My hat is off to my teammates.”
Patrik Laine scored his team-leading 24th goal, rookie Jack Roslovic was credited with his second and Nikolaj Ehlers added an empty-netter for the Jets, who improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven. Blake Wheeler had two assists.
“It was great to see him back in the net and he was our best player tonight,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
Winnipeg led 1-0 after the first period and kept that edge until Wheeler’s shot bounced off Roslovic and went up and over Varlamov into the net at 5:17 of the third.
With forward Mikko Rantanen in the penalty box for tripping, Laine scored 2:27 into the opening period on a play that’s become familiar to Winnipeg fans. Wheeler threaded a pass through defenders across the front of the net to Laine on the left and he quickly fired in his 13th power-play marker past Varlamov on his blocker side.
Rantanen later rang a shot off the post as the Avalanche had a 10-6 advantage in shots after the first. The scoreless second period featured good chances, and bad luck, by both teams. The Jets had three shots hit the post, while the Avalanche had a 2-man break while short-handed when Matt Nieto and Gabriel Bourque went in alone on Hellebuyck, but Bourque’s high shot missed the net.
“I think I might have intimidated (Bourque) a little bit,” Hellebuyck said with a grin.
Nieto described Hellebuyck as a big goalie who takes up a lot of the net.
“If he sees the puck he’s going to save it,” Nieto said. “We just had to get guys in front of him and get more second and third chances.”
Bednar said his players looked good for the first half of the game.
“I thought the final 30 minutes of the game our execution was poor,” he said. “We were passing into skates and turning the puck over and that led to them creating a bunch of good scoring chances in the second period. Eventually they took over the game.”
The Avalanche had a power play with 4:43 left in the third when Jets center Bryan Little was called for hooking, but Hellebuyck made a couple of stops from close in and Ehlers scored into the empty net with 18 seconds left to preserve the win.
Winnipeg lost veteran forward Matt Hendricks to an upper-body injury early in the opening period. Coach Paul Maurice said later it didn’t look significant. “In that we lost Matt so early and you get to a shorter bench and a kind of a grinding game, we handled it pretty darn well,” Maurice said. … The Avalanche wrapped up a season-high, six-game road trip at 2-3-1.
Avalanche: Host San Jose on Tuesday night.
Jets: Host Arizona on Tuesday night.
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