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Jets Eliminated from NHL Playoffs with Loss to Avalanche

April 30, 2024 11:37 PM | The Canadian Press


By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

WINNIPEG — Adam Lowry and Josh Morrissey both spoke in quiet voices about missed opportunities after the Winnipeg Jets were knocked out of the opening round of the NHL playoffs Tuesday for a second straight season.

Mikko Rantanen’s first two goals of the NHL playoffs propelled the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-3 victory over the Jets that clinched their Western Conference best-of-seven series in five games.

“Disappointing, disappointing way to end the year,” said Lowry, who became Winnipeg’s captain this season. “I think everyone in this room is upset with our level of play in the series.”

The Jets became the first Canadian team eliminated from the playoffs after they lost the final four games of the series, duplicating their exit in last season’s opening round against the Vegas Golden Knights.

It was the first time Colorado and Winnipeg met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Jets had finished the regular season in second place in the Central Division, three points up on the Avalanche. Winnipeg had swept their season series 3-0.

“You work all year to give yourself an opportunity,” said Morrissey, who scored one of Winnipeg’s goals. “We had a great regular season. Out in five, it’s pretty disappointing.”

Jets players stayed on the ice after handshakes and saluted their whiteout crowd at Canada Life Centre with raised sticks.

Kyle Connor and Tyler Toffoli also scored for Winnipeg. Vezina Trophy nominee Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27 of the 31 shots he faced for Winnipeg.

“In the (last) two years, that’s by far the best playoff game we’ve played,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “It didn’t go our way tonight.

“Couple goals went in off of us. We had some chances that we didn’t score (on). Where was that in the first four games? That’s a question we’re going to have to answer ourselves over the course of the summer.”

Rantanen, who also picked up an assist, scored twice in a span of just under four minutes early in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie.

Valeri Nichushkin, Yakov Trenin, Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon and Devon Toews each picked up a pair of assists.

“That’s the best hockey we’ve played for five games in a row all season long, and that’s what it takes this time of year and that’s partly our experience, I think,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.

Alexandar Georgiev made 34 saves for the 2022 Stanley Cup champions, who play the winner of the Dallas Stars and Golden Knights series in the second round.

“I thought the first couple periods we were maybe a little bit too cautious,” Georgiev said. “But in the third, we knew they would try to open it up (and) we scored a big goal, the fourth one, and kept playing smart. Very, very solid effort.”

The game was tied 1-1 after a fast-paced first period. Colorado led 3-2 heading into the third.

Connor’s first goal of the game had unofficial assists by the Avalanche.

After the Jets winger shot the puck at Georgiev, Manson tried to clear it out of the crease, but it bounced off Lehkonen and into the net at 1:15.

The Avalanche didn’t feel bad for too long.

Toews sent a pass across the slot to Nichushkin, who fired a one-timer past Hellebuyck for his team-high seventh goal of the series at 3:18.

The visitors outshot the Jets 13-7 in the opening period.

Trenin recorded his first goal and point of the series when his shot hit the post and he got the puck and flipped it into the net at 5:42 to go ahead 2-1.

Winnipeg went on its first power play a minute later and cashed in on Morrissey’s one-timer from the point that blew by Georgiev 14 seconds into the man advantage.

Lehkonen made it 3-2, but this time it was Jets defenceman Neal Pionk who unofficially tallied the marker after the puck hit his stick and went in with 6:15 left in the middle period.

The period ended with the Jets ahead on shots 26-24.

Toffoli tied it 3-3 at 2:06, but Rantanen recorded his first goal at 4:11 and added his second marker at 8:01.

Manson shot into the empty net with two seconds left in the third.

DUBIOUS MARK 

The Jets are the first team in NHL history to allow five or more goals in each of their first five games to begin a post-season, according to Sportsnet stats.

The Avalanche outscored the Jets 28-15 during the series, including four empty-netters.

CP - The Canadian Press


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