DENVER (AP) – Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele are becoming Winnipeg’s go-to tandem in crunch time.
Wheeler scored at 4:58 of overtime, with Scheifele getting an assist, and the Jets beat the slumping Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Sunday night.
Al Montoya stopped 33 shots and Andrew Ladd also scored for Winnipeg.
It was the second time this month that Wheeler and Scheifele combined to give the Jets an overtime win. Three weeks ago, Wheeler scored on a pass from Scheifele to beat Tampa Bay.
“The last time I put them together they ended up scoring the overtime goal,” coach Claude Noel said. “You kind of go with it.”
Wheeler won Sunday’s game for the Jets when he shoved the puck past Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov with time ticking down in the extra period.
“Scheifele was looking shot the whole way, but I could see out of the corner of his eye he was motioning to me to see if anyone was coming,” said Wheeler, who also assisted on Ladd’s goal. “I was able to get by my guy and just called for it at the last second. I had no idea of the time left. I knew it was toward the end.”
Wheeler leads the team with 14 points (10 goals, four assists) in December. He has three multigoal games this month.
Varlamov made 35 saves and Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado, which has lost four 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.”
The Avalanche are in their first extended slump since starting the season 14-2-0. They have salvaged three points during their four-game losing streak to stay in third place in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference.
“I’m very happy because we had 19 games against our conference and we were 9-6-4,” coach Patrick Roy said. “It was a tough stretch, it was an important stretch, and we picked up 22 points.”
Ladd gave the Jets a 1-0 lead with 8:18 remaining in the third period. It was his 10th goal of the season.
“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.”
MacKinnon answered 29 seconds later when his shot went off defenseman Zach Bogosian’s skate and past Montoya.
“I tried to tell our guys, ‘Don’t look for perfect plays. Just put it on net and see what happens,'” Roy said. “And that’s how we scored our goal.”
Avalanche forward P.A. Parenteau went down with a left knee injury late in the second period. Parenteau’s right skate got tangled with the skate of Winnipeg defenseman Jeff Trouba near center ice, and Parenteau’s left knee buckled.
Parenteau was helped off the ice and into the locker room. He didn’t return.
“He’ll have an MRI tomorrow and we’ll know better and know exactly what it is,” Roy said.
Parenteau tied for the team lead in points last season with 43. He is fourth on the Avalanche this season with 24 points in 37 games.
The goalies dominated through the first two periods. Varlamov had a big save on Evander Kane’s wrister from the right circle with 4:57 left the second to deny the Jets their best scoring chance in the first 40 minutes.
Colorado had a few opportunities, with the best coming late in the second, but Montoya kept the game scoreless with a couple of late saves.
“It was a grind. It was tight, not a lot of scoring chances either way, but we hung in there,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Offensively in the first period we were doing a great job of protecting that puck, cycling that puck and getting some momentum.”
Trouba had a chance with 12:25 left in the third but was slashed by Landeskog. The Jets had four shots on the ensuing power play but couldn’t beat Varlamov.
NOTES: Avalanche C Matt Duchene has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in his last eight games. … Bogosian (flu) and fellow defenseman Mark Stuart (lower-body injury) returned to the lineup after missing one game each. … Avalanche C Paul Stastny was injured and went to the locker room during the third period but returned to the ice.
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