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Avalanche eliminate Winnipeg Jets from playoffs with 6-3 road win

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Mikko Rantanen's first two goals of the playoffs propelled the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday that clinched their opening-round playoff series in five games.

The Jets became the first Canadian team knocked out of the playoffs after they lost the final four games of the best-of-seven Western Conference series, duplicating their exit in last season's opening round against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Jets players stayed on the ice after handshakes and saluted their whiteout crowd at Canada Life Centre with raised sticks.

Rantanen, who also picked up an assist, scored twice in a span of just under four minutes early in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie.

Valeri Nichushkin, Yakov Trenin, Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson, with an empty-netter, also scored for the Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon and Devon Toews each picked up a pair of assists.

Alexandar Georgiev made 33 saves for Colorado, which plays the winner of the Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights series in the second round.

It was the first time Colorado and Winnipeg met in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Jets had finished the regular season in second place in the Central Division, three points up on the Avalanche. Winnipeg had swept their season series 3-0.

Kyle Connor, Josh Morrissey and Tyler Toffoli scored for the Jets. Vezina Trophy nominee Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26 of the 31 shots he faced for Winnipeg.

The game was tied 1-1 after a fast-paced first period. Colorado led 3-2 heading into the third.

Connor's first goal of the game had unofficial assists by the Avalanche.

After the Jets winger shot the puck at Georgiev, Manson tried to clear it out of the crease, but it bounced off Lehkonen and into the net at 1:15.

The Avalanche didn't feel bad for too long.

Toews sent a pass across the slot to Nichushkin, who fired a one-timer past Hellebuyck for his team-high seventh goal of the series at 3:18.

The visitors outshot the Jets 13-7 in the opening period.

Trenin recorded his first goal and point of the series when his shot hit the post and he got the puck and flipped it into the net at 5:42 to go ahead 2-1.

Winnipeg went on its first power play a minute later and cashed in on Morrissey's one-timer from the point that blew by Georgiev 14 seconds into the man advantage.

Lehkonen made it 3-2, but this time it was Jets defenceman Neal Pionk who unofficially tallied the marker after the puck hit his stick and went in with 6:15 left in the middle period.

The period ended with the Jets ahead on shots 26-24.

Toffoli tied it 3-3 up at 2:06, but Rantanen recorded his first goal two minutes later at 4:11 and added his second marker at 8:01.

Manson shot into the empty net with two seconds left in the third.

DUBIOUS MARK

The Jets are the first team in NHL history to allow five or more goals in each of their first five games to begin a post-season, according to Sportsnet stats.

The Avalanche outscored the Jets 28-15 during the series, including four empty-netters.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2024.

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