Iginla powers Avalanche past Jets 5-2
DENVER (AP) — For one day at least, Jarome Iginla and the Colorado Avalanche were all smiles at home.
Iginla had a goal and an assist, and the reeling Avalanche beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Saturday.
Matt Nieto scored twice and Matt Duchene added three assists, helping Colorado stop a nine-game losing streak. Nathan MacKinnon and Carl Soderberg also scored, and Calvin Pickard had 23 saves.
“Today felt different than a lot of games,” Iginla said. “We know we’re a better group than we’ve been playing. It snowballed in the wrong direction for a while and then you lose your confidence as a group. This game it just felt like we went out and played as hard as we could and had fun doing it.”
Colorado improved to 5-24-2 in its last 31 games. It also snapped a five-game skid at Pepsi Center, where it is 6-18-1 overall after its first regulation home win since Nov. 15.
Adam Lowry scored each of Winnipeg’s goals, stopping a 21-game drought. The Jets had won three in a row.
“It seemed like we were chasing, we couldn’t really generate our speed that we’re used to in the transition game and it seemed like we were fighting the puck a little bit,” Lowry said.
Nieto broke a 2-2 tie midway through the second period, and Soderberg made it 4-2 2:04 into the third with his fifth of the season.
The game got heated midway through the third when Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov delivered an open-ice check on Mark Scheifele. It was the second hard check Zadorov had on the Winnipeg center, and Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba went after Zadorov. Both received fighting majors and Trouba a game misconduct.
“Trouba did a good job,” Zadorov said. “If Dutchie would get the same hit, I would do the same thing, I would jump the guy. You got to protect your players. You got to protect your best player and Scheifele is one of the best players.”
The Jets pulled Ondrej Pavelec for an extra skater with 2:20 left and Nieto scored into the empty net in the final minute.
Pavelec finished with 23 saves.
“We had a number of players, and a big number, that weren’t at their ‘A’ game,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “Our goaltender was really good again and we didn’t have a whole lot going up front.”
The Jets thought they took a 2-1 lead in the first period on Trouba’s shot from the right circle. However, the goal was waved off when the official ruled Joel Armia interfered with Pickard.
Maurice thought Armia was checked into the goaltender and unsuccessfully challenged the call.
“Joel was taking an outside track to the tender and he wasn’t able to stay out of that contact because of the hit that he took,” Maurice said.
Iginla, who has talked openly about wanting to finish the season with a contender, assisted on Soderberg’s goal and scored on the power play 5:27 into the game. He has seven goals and seven assists in 49 games this season.
“It does feel good,” Iginla said. “It’s been a while for us.”
NOTES: Jets C Bryan Little was helped off the ice off midway through the third period after taking a shot off his left skate. He returned late in the third period. ... D Mark Barberio made his Avalanche debut. He was picked up off waivers from Montreal on Thursday. ... Jets RW Drew Stafford missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury. He practiced Friday and could return when the Jets start a four-game homestand on Tuesday.
Jets: Host Minnesota on Tuesday night.
Avalanche: Host Montreal on Tuesday night.