Monday, December 30, 2013
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Wheeler, Jets beat the clock, Avs in overtime

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[December 30, 2013]  DENVER  Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel wasn't about to mess with a winning formula.

It took nearly the entire overtime, but his faith was rewarded with another thrilling finish.

Right winger Blake Wheeler scored with two seconds left in OT, and the Jets beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 Sunday night.

Goalie Al Montoya stopped 33 shots and left winger Andrew Ladd also scored for the Jets, who stopped a two-game road losing streak.

Wheeler gave the Jets the win when he shoved the puck past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov as time was running out in the extra period to give Winnipeg the win.

"I had no idea of the time left," said Wheeler, who also had an assist. "I knew it was towards the end of it. We were at the end of our shift, too."

It was the second time Wheeler scored an overtime winner on an assist from center Mark Scheifele. The two combined to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 7.

"The last time I put them together, they ended up scoring the overtime goal," Noel said. "You kind of go with it."


Varlamov stopped 35 shots, and center Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado, which lost its fourth straight, three after regulation.

"I'm not happy because we need those two points. It's all about the points," Varlamov said. "I can't lose that game, not like that."

It was a tough way for the Avalanche to start a seven-game homestand, their longest of the season. Even so, coach Patrick Roy, unlike Varlamov, was looking at the upside after the loss.

"I'm very happy because we just had 19 games against our conference and we were 9-6-4," he said. "It was a tough stretch, it was an important stretch, and we picked up 22 points."

Colorado (23-11-4) is third in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference.

After going almost 52 minutes without a goal in the game, the teams scored 29 seconds apart. Ladd gave the Jets a 1-0 lead with his 10th of the season with 8:18 left in regulation.

"Wheels did a great job of beating the guy off the boards to get into an area where he could make a pass and make a good play," Ladd said. "I was able to get a good shot off."

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The Avalanche came right back and tied it when MacKinnon's shot went off the skate of Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian with 7:49 remaining. It was MacKinnon's ninth of the season.

Colorado lost a key part of its offense when right winger P.A. Parenteau suffered a left knee injury late in the second period. Parenteau got his right skate caught with Winnipeg defenseman Jacob Trouba near center ice, and his left knee buckled.

Parenteau was helped off the ice and into the locker room. Parenteau, who last season tied for the team lead in points, is the fourth on the Avalanche this season with 24 points.

"He'll have an MRI tomorrow and we'll know better and know exactly what it is," Roy said.

The teams had plenty of shots and chances  including a power play each  but couldn't score in the first two periods. Varlamov had 22 saves entering the third and Montoya 17.

The Jets piled up more scoring opportunities, and the best one came from left winger Evander Kane with 4:57 left in the second. The young star got the puck in the right circle with a great look, but Varlamov made a glove save to keep Winnipeg off the scoreboard.

Colorado left winger Gabriel Landeskog went off for a slash with 12:19 left in the third. The Jets controlled the puck throughout the power play but couldn't score on the four shots they threw at Varlamov.

NOTES: Avalanche C Matt Duchene has 98 career goals. He trails only New York Islanders C John Tavares in goals among players drafted in 2009. Duchene has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his past eight games. ... Winnipeg D Zach Bogosian (flu) and D Mark Stuart (lower body injury) returned to the lineup after missing one game each. ... Colorado scored a power-play goal in four of its previous five games before going 0-for-1 with the man advantage against the Jets. ... Jets RW Chris Thorburn played in his 499th career game Sunday. ... The Avalanche's 23-11-3 record before Sunday was third-best start in franchise history, trailing only the 1994-95 Nordiques and the 2000-01 Stanley Cup championship team.

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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