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Alexandar Georgiev bounces back, Avalanche come from behind with quick scoring in second period to win against Jets in Game 2

Colorado Avalanche Zach Parise (9) celebrates his goal against the Winnipeg Jets with Josh Manson (42) and Yakov Trenin (73) during the second period in Game 2 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)

The margins are never thinner, and the swings are never greater than in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

WINNIPEG — The differences in score are very small, and the changes in momentum are very big in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Colorado Avalanche was extremely close to allowing a potentially devastating goal and about 27 minutes away from being down 2-0 in the series on Tuesday night at Canada Life Centre. A few minutes later, the Avs were in control of the game and one period later had taken away home-ice advantage from the Winnipeg Jets in this first-round series.

Artturi Lehkonen, Zach Parise and Josh Manson scored during a potentially series-altering burst late in the second period, and the Avalanche secured a 5-2 win in Game 2 to even the best-of-seven series at one game each. Game 3 is Friday night at Ball Arena.

“It was excellent,” Nathan MacKinnon said. “I thought we continued from Game 1. Not as many major breakdowns. But (Alexandar Georgiev) was excellent. I thought every line contributed. Fun game.”

Georgiev, who let in seven goals on 23 shots in Game 1, had a significant bounce-back performance with 28 saves. The Whiteout crowd in Winnipeg chanted his name and gave him a mock cheer almost every time he stopped the puck on a dump-in from the Jets.

The struggling goalie didn’t falter after an early goal allowed and outperformed the opponent at the other end of the ice who is the likely 2024 Vezina Trophy winner.

“Fantastic,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought he was outstanding, and he deserves all the credit, because our team was better, but it wasn’t that much better. But he was much better, and he gave us a chance to win, and we did win, and now we gotta go repeat it.”

Manson made a mistake in his own zone while trying to pass it to his defense partner, Jack Johnson. The Jets had an opportunity to take a two-goal lead late in the second period, but Kyle Connor, one of the best shooters in the sport, hit the left post with a powerful shot. Gabe Vilardi got a chance on the rebound, but Georgiev stopped that one.

The Avs then scored three goals in the final six minutes of the period to take control of the game. Lehkonen got it started by redirecting a shot from Cale Makar with 5:44 left after some strong work from the top line to tie the score at 2-2.

Parise gave the Avs the lead with 2:40 left in the period. Yakov Trenin pressured Connor Hellebuyck into a costly mistake. Andrew Cogliano retrieved the puck and sent it out in front, where Parise ultimately guided it over the goal line on his second attempt. It was the first playoff goal since 2021 for Parise, who came out of semi-retirement to join the club at the All-Star break and is pursuing his first Stanley Cup at age 39.

“It was great,” Parise said. “Again, you try to contribute in any way that you can. It’s not always on the scoresheet. When it is, it feels great. We’ve been getting good contributions up-and-down the lineup through the first two games and that’s really important this time of year.”

Manson had two mistakes that led to Jets goals in Game 1 and nearly had another earlier in the period, but he came out of the penalty box after matching minors with Vilardi to score with 6.9 seconds left in the period.

MacKinnon gave him a pass from the Avs zone that one of the referees had to leap over to avoid, then Manson made a clever move to beat Hellebuyck through the five hole and put Colorado ahead 4-2.

“It felt nice,” Manson said. “You don’t get those often. And just to be able to score, that was good. It was obviously not my best effort in Game 1. Those things happen sometimes, so it was good.”

David Gustafsson scored first for the Jets with a goal 3:15 into the opening period. A point shot and a battle in front caused Georgiev to lunge to his left, but the puck never got there and Gustafson took advantage.

Miles Wood scored for the second time in as many games to make it 1-1. The puck came right to him off a faceoff and his quick shot surprised Hellebuyck along the ice at 1:59 of the second period. Wood had two goals in 13 career playoff games in seven seasons with the Devils before joining the Avs this past offseason.

Mark Scheifele put Winnipeg back in front 2-1 with a beautiful one-handed deflection goal at 8:37. The Jets had just killed off a four-minute Colorado power play and Vilardi fed Scheifele driving to the net.

“There was no … we weren’t shaking. It was a tough break,” Parise said. “It went from a four-minute power play, to us getting a Grade-A chance to us scoring. It was a rollercoaster, but we liked how we were playing so it wasn’t anything that we felt like we needed to adjust or change.”

The Jets were an inch away from making it 3-1 and possibly taking control of the series. The iron was not kind to Connor, and the Avs didn’t look back.

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