Cale Makar Keeps Growing in Colorado
The sublime Avalanche defenseman continues to round out his game while putting up Norris Trophy-worthy performances. © Provided by The Hockey News Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports 'Cale Makar good' is not exactly a white-hot take, but with the Avalanche having some rotten injury luck lately, how about some good news for those in the greater Denver area? In the midst of the Colorado defenseman's third NHL season, it's worth looking at how the sublimely talented Avs keystone has evolved - and how he will continue to evolve in the coming years.
WINNIPEG — Josh Morrissey believes the Winnipeg Jets showed their no-quit character in a 5-4 overtime loss to the league-leading Colorado Avalanche on Friday. © Provided by The Canadian Press
The Jets scored twice in the final four minutes of the third period to send the game into overtime, but Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar sealed the visitors' victory with a power-play goal 2:42 into the extra period.
“We understand the situation and where we are at in the standings,” Morrissey said. “We had a conversation (after the second period) about not quitting and how we want to look at this next stretch of games here.
Making the case for each of the NHL's Norris Trophy contenders
For the second consecutive year, there will be little suspense as to who captures the various NHL awards this season. Auston Matthews has pulled away from Igor Shesterkin in the Hart Trophy race, it’s a two-man fight for the Rocket Richard, Shesterkin has left his contemporaries in the dust for the Vezina, while Patrice Bergeron has turned back the clock to submit a vintage two-way season as his name will be engraved on the Selke once again. ButAuston Matthews has pulled away from Igor Shesterkin in the Hart Trophy race, it’s a two-man fight for the Rocket Richard, Shesterkin has left his contemporaries in the dust for the Vezina, while Patrice Bergeron has turned back the clock to submit a vintage two-way season as his name will be
“Obviously, we are not happy with where we are, but at the same time, it’s what team do we want to be, what type of group do we want to be in there and what kind of fight do we want to show each other and just have no quit.”
The Jets, who are winless in their last four games (0-3-1), are seven points behind the idle Dallas Stars for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Vegas and Vancouver are also in the mix and didn't play.
The Avalanche extended their win streak to five games. Makar, Andre Burakovsky and Nathan MacKinnon each had a goal and an assist. Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Erik Johnson and Nathan MacKinnon also scored.
Pavel Francouz stopped 39 shots for Colorado (51-14-6), which is 9-1-1 in its last 11 games and finishes a three-game road trip Saturday in Edmonton against the Oilers.
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Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers both scored twice and added an assist each for Winnipeg (33-29-10).
Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves in his 60th game of the season for the Jets, who ended a three-game homestand with an 0-2-1 record.
Ehlers and Scheifele produced an exciting finish for the 13,900 fans at Canada Life Centre.
Scheifele's second goal squeezed the score 4-3 with 3:35 left in the third period.
Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen then took a penalty with 44 seconds left. The Jets pulled Hellebuyck for a two-man advantage and Ehlers scored with 16 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The elation didn't last long when Ehlers was called for slashing MacKinnon 45 seconds into the extra period and Makar notched his 25th goal of the season.
“Penalties hurt us at the end,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We had one opportunity with the empty net in order to probably put that game on ice and we didn’t capitalize on it, and then we end up getting called a penalty.
Trophy Watch: Making the Case for Each Norris Candidate
Take a look at how the top defensemen in the NHL are shaking out this year and a case for why any of them can take home the coveted defensive hardware. © Provided by The Hockey News Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports Fun fact: Before becoming the remarkably mediocre sportswriter I am now, I was intent on becoming a lawyer. I have a political science degree and barely-opened LSAT study books to prove it. Obviously, that did not happen. But one of the main reasons that placed me hot on the path to law school is that my parents always told me, through gritted teeth, that I was very good at arguing.
“I like the fact that our team stuck with it in overtime. You certainly don’t like to give up a lead, but the Jets are a dangerous team. They have some shooters over there.”
Morrissey denied Colorado's empty-net attempt. He stuck out of his foot and blocked a MacKinnon shot.
Winnipeg was without captain Blake Wheeler (upper body), who was injured in last Wednesday's loss to Detroit.
The Jets led 2-1 after the first period and the Avalanche held a 3-2 lead after the second.
Aube-Kubel scored after his pass to the front of the net hit the skate of Jets defenceman Brenden Dillon and went in at 5:10 of the opening period.
Ehlers set up Scheifele's 28th goal of the season on a two-on-one rush at 10:32.
Ehlers then made it 2-1 after a failed breakout attempt by the Avalanche. Scheifele got the puck and sent it to Ehlers in front of the net, who poked in his own rebound with 2:25 left in the period.
“Obviously, you can't be too happy when you lose a game but we're trying to grow our chemistry as a line every single day, every single time we step out on the ice,” Ehlers said.
Burakovsky recorded his 20th goal of the season to tie it up at 3:55 of the second period.
A Winnipeg turnover led to Johnson putting the Avs ahead 3-2 at 9:11.
“They made it hard for us,” Burakovsky said of the Jets. “They had a couple long shifts in our zone against us.
“They were shooting the puck and they were working hard. They were crashing the net. It was hard for us to defend against that. Really good job by us to find a way to win the game.”
Avalanche forward J.T. Compher got a penalty shot after being hooked by Dillon, but his backhand attempt missed the net with 2:42 remaining.
MacKinnon's 25th goal of the season widened the gap to 4-2 at 4:04 of the third.
Winnipeg travels to Ottawa for a Sunday game against the Senators.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 8, 2022.
Judy Owens, The Canadian Press
Chicago Blackhawks extend Reese Johnson on two-year deal .
If there’s an opponent that Johnson doesn’t want to hit, he hasn’t found it yet. The 23-year-old forward has racked up 111 hits in just 28 games this season, his first semi-regular NHL campaign. Coming into the year, he had seen just five games with the Blackhawks and was still looking for his first NHL point, and he now has six of those to his name, including one goal.