Avalanche lose to the Jets, looking out of sync after a week off

The Avalanche got their offense working in the third period, outshooting the Jets 20-4. But they couldn’t solve Hutchinson as he recorded his first shutout since Jan. 15, 2015, against Columbus.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog stressed the need to take time to recover from concussions. (Lisa Gansky/Flickr)
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog stressed the need to take time to recover from concussions. (Lisa Gansky/Flickr)
Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. (Lisa Gansky/Flickr)

By Pat Graham, AP sports writer

DENVER (AP) — Michael Hutchinson was all warmed up by the time the Colorado Avalanche finally shook off the rust from a long layoff.

At that point, nothing was getting by him.

Hutchinson stopped 37 shots for his third career NHL shutout, Shawn Matthias scored in the second period against his former team and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Avalanche 1-0 on Friday night.

Early on, the Jets were more energetic despite playing their third game in four days, including a 4-1 win over Dallas the night before.

Meanwhile, Colorado looked a bit out of sync after a week break. The Avalanche got their offense working in the third period, outshooting the Jets 20-4. But they couldn’t solve Hutchinson as he recorded his first shutout since Jan. 15, 2015, against Columbus.

“We knew with them having those days off, there’s a chance they could come out with a little bit of a slower start,” Hutchinson said. “With us playing last night, we knew it was important to get a jump on them early. We did exactly what we had to do.”

The Avalanche pulled Semyon Varlamov with around 1:22 remaining, but couldn’t capitalize.

Varlamov stopped 20 shots, his only mistake not sliding over in time to stop Matthias’ wrist shot.

Colorado went on the power play late in the final period and had a golden chance with Hutchinson down on the ice. But Rene Bourque’s shot from out front appeared to hit forward Brandon Tanev and sail wide of the net.

Hutchinson also came up big midway through the third period by stopping Joe Colborne, who coasted in all alone and tried to thread the puck between Hutchinson’s legs.

“This one stinks,” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “We really wanted this one. Especially after coming off an extended break.”

Simply ran into a hot goaltender.

“Their goalie stole one for them,” forward Nathan MacKinnon succinctly said.

Colorado’s alternate blue sweater hasn’t exactly been lucky. The team is 5-9-1 since the jersey’s debut last season.

Jarome Iginla remains in a goal-scoring funk. He had a point-blank shot moments into the third period and was thwarted by Hutchinson. Iginla has just one goal so far this season. He’s 16th on the league’s all-time goal-scoring list.

Matthias gave the Jets 1-0 lead at 8:29 of the second period when he guided in a perfect cross-ice pass from Joel Armia. Matthias played for the Avalanche last season after being acquired in a February deal with Toronto. He had six goals in 20 games for Colorado.

“Nice to score against your former team,” Matthias said. “There’s no animosity toward any old team. Just playing hard for the Jets.”

Winnipeg nearly had a power-play goal midway through the first period when Mark Scheifele poked in a shot between the pads of Varlamov. But the officials blew the whistle just before the puck rolled into the net.

Scheifele pleaded to no avail.

Patrik Laine, the No. 2 overall pick in June who already has six goals, unleashed a few quality shots only to be turned back by Varlamov. Laine is good friends with Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, who was making his season debut after being called up from San Antonio of the American Hockey League.

They pair helped Team Finland to the 2016 world junior hockey championship. They also practiced together this summer.

“It will be fun,” Rantanen said of the friendly rival.

Rantanen was the 10th overall pick in 2015. His locker once belonged to Avalanche standout Milan Hejduk.

“Maybe Mikko will take the great energy that was in that stall,” Landeskog cracked.

Notes: Jets D Dustin Byfuglien recorded the 800th penalty minute of his career with a tripping call in the second period. He also was called for another penalty in the closing seconds. … F Drew Stafford missed a second straight game with an upper-body injury. … D Fedor Tyutin (groin) sat out a second straight game. … F John Mitchell (hip) made his season debut.

Up next

Jets: Host Buffalo on Sunday.

Avalanche: At Arizona on Saturday in their second back-to-back set this season.