By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
Connor Hellebuyck was glad to see his teammates display the kind of scoring power he knows they’re capable of producing.
Adam Lowry, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor scored in a span of 3:21 in the third period to help the Winnipeg Jets upset the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 Sunday and hand the visitors a season-high fourth straight loss.
Nikolaj Ehlers also scored a late third-period goal for the Jets (36-32-11) and Hellebuyck made 30 saves on a night the netminder went into the franchise’s record book.
“We were solid in our details, we just grinded it out until the opportunity was there,” Hellebuyck said. “That’s the firing power we have in this locker room. We can score at any moment.”
Hellebuyck played his 65th game of the season and 380th with the team. That set a franchise record (Atlanta/Winnipeg) for games played by a goaltender, one more than Ondrej Pavelec.
When Hellebuyck’s achievement was announced to the crowd of 14,443 at Canada Life Centre, fans gave him a standing ovation.
“It just shows that the fans appreciate everything I’ve accomplished here with them,” said Hellebuyck, who also recorded his 200th career win.
“I’m glad to call Winnipeg my home this past few years and look forward to some more.”
The Jets, who ended a four-game losing skid with the victory, have missed the playoffs and will end their regular season with a four-game homestand that began with Colorado.
J.T. Compher scored early in the third period for the Avalanche (55-18-6), who have lost all four games in regulation.
“I think our work is cut out for us here to get our guys back to playing our game, getting back to our identity,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.
“It starts with the work, the competitiveness. Moves on to execution, details – the whole gamut now. We’ve seen it all over the last four games.”
Darcy Kuemper stopped 40 shots for the Central Division champions and top seed in the Western Conference.
Both clubs had chances on the power play in the first two periods.
Colorado had the game’s first man advantage 5:23 into the opening period, but couldn’t manage a shot on goal and the Jets got a shorthanded opportunity to score.
Connor intercepted the puck after a bad Avalanche pass attempt, but he was stopped by Kuemper on a partial breakaway. Winnipeg led 6-1 on shots on goal at that point.
The Jets went on the power play with just under eight minutes left in the period, but Kuemper made two saves. A second Jets power play ended with only one shot on goal.
The second period featured a squandered power play by Colorado and a late rally by Winnipeg.
The Avalanche went on the power play at the 5:05 mark, but didn’t fire a shot at Hellebuyck.
The Jets got their fans cheering in the final minute and a half of the period when Kuemper was tested.
Lowry’s shot went off the post, Wheeler was denied on a breakaway and Kuemper stopped Ehlers.
The Avalanche finally hit the back of the net at 5:03 of the third when Erik Johnson sent a quick pass to an open Compher, who beat Hellebuyck on the glove side.
“We know this last week has not been good enough and we’re trying to make sure when playoffs come around we’re doing things the right way,” Compher said. “But there’s no excuses in our room. It just hasn’t been good enough.”
Winnipeg responded to Compher’s 17th goal of the season with the trio of goals.
A Josh Morrissey shot went off Lowry at 9:03, Wheeler got his stick on a bouncing puck and beat Kuemper at 10:23 and Connor notched his 45th goal of the season at 12:25 to make it 3-1.
Connor’s goal total surpassed former Jets sniper Patrik Laine for most goals in a single season since the Jets returned to Winnipeg in 2011.
“It’s a pretty cool achievement, I guess,” Connor said. “There’s a lot of good players that have come through this organization, a lot of talent, a lot of skill. It’s even better to get a win here tonight, too.”
Ehlers finished off the scoring at 16:18.
Colorado hosts the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Winnipeg is home to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.