MacKinnon, Nichushkin lead 5-goal outburst in 3rd period, Avs rally for 6-2 win over Jets in Game 3

DENVER (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon and Valeri Nichushkin scored on the power play during a five-goal, third-period outburst and the Colorado Avalanche rallied for a 6-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 3 on Friday night.

Alexandar Georgiev stopped 22 shots to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series. Game 4 is Sunday in the Mile High City.

Trailing 2-1 in the final period, Colorado, the highest-scoring team in the league, began pouring it on. The Avalanche scored four times in a 10:24 span to energize the crowd and stun the Jets in a game that ended in a lot of pushing and shoving.

“We didn’t sit back on our heels and I think we kind of just took it to them,” Ross Colton explained. “When we play with that speed, we play with that energy, we’re a good team. ... Credit to the guys in the room for just sticking with the process and putting ourselves in a good situation.”

MacKinnon sparked the scoring run with the tying goal and Nichushkin knocked in the go-ahead tally with 15:21 remaining. Nichushkin's goal came after Jets center Gabriel Vilardi was given a double-minor for hitting Devon Toews in the face with his stick and drawing blood. Toews left the ice with a towel held to his face.

Artturi Lehkonen and Colton added goals to make it 5-2. Toews, returning from a bloodied face, scored an empty-netter with 3:35 remaining to seal the win.

Casey Mittelstadt finished with three assists.

It was a third period where everything went wrong for the Jets, who were whistled for four penalties by the halfway mark (and a few more late for roughing and fighting with the game out of reach). Until then, the game was going their way, with Tyler Toffoli and Josh Morrissey scoring in the second period to make it 2-1.

“We’ve got to stop looking for that extra play and just do what they (Avalanche) do — throw it at the net,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said. “Clearly the discipline in the third period and the penalty kill just took us out of the game."

Vezina Trophy-favorite Connor Hellebuyck continues to struggle in net and has now given up 15 goals in the series. He stopped 34 shots.

When horn sounded to end the game several players began to square off. Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon quickly made his way to the locker room with his hand bleeding. The Jets had no update on Dillon or if the injury happened because of a skate blade.

“Obviously, a scary situation there,” Morrissey said. “We’re all really concerned for him. We’re just hoping everything is OK.”

Colorado scored the first goal when Zach Parise knocked in a rebound midway through the opening period. It was the first time in the series the team that scored first has won.

With goals in two straight games, Parise is the first player 39 or older to score in back-to-back games since Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson during the 2013 conference semifinals, according to NHL Stats.

Georgiev has rediscovered his confidence. He gave up seven goals in Game 1, leading to speculation he might be replaced by backup Justus Annunen before Annunen was ruled out for Game 2 due to an illness. Georgiev allowed two goals in a Game 2 win and was dependable again Friday.

Georgiev was serenaded throughout the night with chants of “Geor-gie, ”Geor-gie.”

“Unbelievable,” Georgiev said of the crowd calling his name. “I feel the guys did such a good job for me today, just made my job so much easier. I feel they deserve more chants, for sure. I appreciate it a lot. It’s an amazing feeling.”

Both teams made changes to their defense. The Jets inserted veteran Nate Schmidt into the lineup over Logan Stanley, while the Avalanche saw the return of Samuel Girard, who's been in concussion protocol. Girard had an assist in his return.

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