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Lowry, Connor propel Jets to 7-6 playoff win over Avalanche

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Captain Adam Lowry and Kyle Connor each scored twice to propel the Winnipeg Jets to a 7-6 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

“He loves these challenges,” Jets coach Rick Bowness said of Lowry. “He’s going up against one of the best players in the world, not necessarily the league, but the world in Nate (Nathan MacKinnon). So, he loves those challenges and he takes his game to another level.”

MacKinnon, who had a goal and one assist, was second in league scoring with 140 points during the regular season.

“That’s our captain, man. He’s a gamer,” Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon said of Lowry. “The physicality, he plays against the top guys every night. Sometimes when it seems like our group doesn’t have it, he’s able to pull us into the fight.”

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Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists and Josh Morrissey registered a goal and assist. Vladislav Namestnikov also scored. Brenden Dillon, Gabriel Vilardi and Nino Niederreiter each added a pair of assists and Connor picked up one helper.

There were 100 hits in the game, with the Avalanche having a 54-46 edge.

Connor Hellebuyck made 40 saves for the Jets, who are on a nine-game win streak.

Cale Makar had a goal and two assists for Colorado. Artturi Lehkonen notched a goal and one assist. Valeri Nichushkin, Miles Wood and Casey Mittelstadt also scored. Mikko Rantanen chipped in with two helpers.

“Unfortunately, all the mistakes that we made ended up in the back of our net,” Makar said. “That’s just the way she goes sometimes. A couple things to clean up and then turn the page.”

Alexandar Georgiev stopped 16 of the 23 shots he faced for Colorado, which is trying to repeat its 2022 Stanley Cup-championship run. He was backed up by Arvid Holm instead of Justus Annunen, who wasn’t at the morning skate.

It was the first time the two teams have met in the NHL playoffs.

The Avalanche came into the series having lost all three regular-season games against Winnipeg.

“We played extremely hard,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We did a lot of good things. You don’t get six (goals) on the Jets without doing that.

“We also made some mistakes that they capitalized on. Too many, obviously tonight, and it ends up costing us the hockey game.”

The first period ended in a 3-3 tie, including the teams combining to score three goals in 66 seconds.

“It’s not the way we drew it up, a 7-6 game, but sometimes you’ve just got to play that game that’s in front of you,” Connor said. “It turned into a bit of a track meet there and we know we’ve got to be better.”

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The teams then combined for four goals in just under four minutes.

Lowry got the only goal of the second period.

Lowry’s second goal of the game had to be reviewed as the puck hit one post, went across and hit the other post and then slid along the goal line and hit the post again before bouncing out. It counted as crossing the line at 3:31.

Mark Scheifele’s first-period goal was his 20th career playoff goal, scored in his 38th game.

Only three active players have reached that mark in fewer games. Alex Ovechkin did it in 26 games, Jake Guentzel in 32 and Connor McDavid in 36 games.

UP NEXT

Game 2 is Tuesday in Winnipeg.

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