DENVER — Late comebacks and wins in extra time made the Colorado Avalanche the NHL's surprise team last year.
Struggling this season one point from the cellar of the Western Conference's Central Division, Colorado reverted to that winning formula on Thursday night. Matt Duchene had a goal and an assist in regulation and got the decisive goal in the shootout, Calvin Pickard had 30 saves through overtime and stopped two more shots with the game on the line, and Colorado rallied to beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-3.
"It was huge," Pickard said. "We've been losing close games by one goal, and the difference between winning and losing is a small margin. We wanted to just stick with it for 60 minutes and we did right to the end."
Ryan O'Reilly and Jarome Iginla also had regulation goals as Colorado stopped a four-game skid.
The Avalanche routinely won last year by scoring late in the third period and then prevailing after regulation. Thursday was only one win, but coach Patrick Roy hopes it's the start of something good.
"We were resilient and it was a nice comeback," he said. "To win in the shootout was good for us. You always hope a game like this will bring confidence and a belief in ourselves."
Mark Scheifele, who had a goal and two assists, gave Winnipeg a 3-1 lead with a goal at 4:32 of the third, but Colorado rallied late. Iginla's wrister with 7:05 left got the Avalanche within a goal and O'Reilly tied it with 2:42 remaining in regulation.
"We played well to get a 3-1 lead," Scheifele said. "Then we took our foot off the gas in the third period and they were able to generate chances."
After a scoreless overtime, Nathan MacKinnon and Duchene beat goalie Ondrej Pavelec with a couple of backhanders. Pickard stopped Mathieu Perreault and Blake Wheeler in the shootout to get the win.
"I actually have faced Wheeler in the summers," Pickard said. "I know he's got great moves and I just wanted to be patient and let the play come to me."
"I just wanted to be patient," Pickard said. "Our back check forced (Ladd) to make a quick shot. I was playing pretty aggressive and the rebound kind of just lay there. I made a desperation-mode save."
Pavelec finished with 23 saves in regulation and overtime. Ladd and Paul Postma also had regulation goals for Winnipeg, which is 5-0-3 in its last eight games.
Ladd got Winnipeg on the board 1:21 into the second period with a power-play goal. Scheifele's shot went off Pickard and bounced in the air. The puck landed in the crease and Ladd poked it in for his 11th goal of the season and second in as many games against Colorado.
The Avalanche ended a 93-minute, 31-second scoring drought when Duchene finished off a nice rush with a deflection into the top of the net that tied the game at 1-all at 3:55 of the second.
Postma gave the Jets a 2-1 lead heading into the third with a power-play goal at 14:40. It was his second of the season.
"We dominated the second period where I'd thought the game was won," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "At 3-1 I thought we were fine."
NOTES: Michael Frolik had two assists for Winnipeg. ... Avalanche LW Alex Tanguay had two assists. ... The Avalanche placed C John Mitchell (leg) on injured reserve and recalled RW Dennis Everberg from Lake Erie of the AHL. ... Jets LW Evander Kane served the second of his two-game suspension for boarding Anaheim's Clayton Stoner on Sunday. ... Colorado LW Jamie McGinn underwent back surgery Wednesday and is likely done for the season.
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