Avs show off ‘deeper’ team in late scoring barrage


DENVER — With a five-goal third-period barrage that saw a different player score each time, the Colorado Avalanche showed the version of the team they believe can make up for last year’s first-round exit a year after winning the Stanley Cup.

The Avalanche cruised to a 6-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals.

“Last year, we had no goals outside of our top three forwards and defensemen,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “This year, I don’t know, you’d have to total it up, but it’s huge contributions. We’re a deeper team. There’s no question about it.”

A lack of secondary and tertiary scoring last season contributed to the Avalanche scoring 19 goals in the first round while being eliminated in seven games by the Seattle Kraken.

They have 17 goals through three first-round games this year, with 10 of them coming from beyond their first line and top defensive pairing.

Veteran winger Zach Parise, who signed with the Avalanche in February in search of his first Stanley Cup, staked the team to a 1-0 lead before the Jets used the second period to take a 2-1 lead through Tyler Toffoli and Josh Morrissey.

Penalties, however, played a role in grounding the Jets in the third period.

“Since I’ve been here, I thought the third was the best period we’ve played,” said Avalanche center Casey Mittelstadt, the team’s trade deadline acquisition who finished with three assists.

A power-play goal from Nathan MacKinnon tied the score a little more than two minutes into the third. The Avalanche took the lead through another power-play goal from Valeri Nichushkin almost two minutes later.

Goals from Artturi Lehkonen and Ross Colton extended the lead to 5-2 before Devon Toews’ empty-net goal made it 6-2 with 3:35 remaining in the game.

“I think for us, being down one in the third there, we didn’t sit back on our heels,” Colton said. “I think we just kind of took it to them. When we play with that speed and that energy, we’re a good team. Obviously, we had some power plays, but we drew them with hard work and getting in on the forecheck and putting them under pressure. It all starts with that.”

At the end of the game, there was an on-ice scrum between the Avalanche and Jets that saw Winnipeg defenseman Brenden Dillon emerge with a bloodied, lacerated left hand. Dillon immediately left the ice and entered the Jets’ dressing room.

Jets coach Rick Bowness said there was no immediate update on Dillon’s condition.

“Obviously, a scary situation there,” Morrissey said. “I don’t really have anything to say, but we’re all really concerned for him and just hoping everything is OK.”

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