WINNIPEG — Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets topped the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Sunday afternoon at MTS Centre.
Mark Scheifele set up a pair of young goal scorers for Winnipeg (15-16-3). Rookie Patrik Laine scored his 18th of the season early in the second period proved, while Blake Wheeler and Ehlers added goals just 1:09 apart in the third. Ehlers scored his second of the game into an empty net.
Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves to improve to improve his personal record to 12-10-1 on the season.
Calvin Pickard got the start in goal for the Avalanche (11-18-1), but his homecoming was spoiled in his first career NHL start in his hometown of Winnipeg. Pickard turned away 26 of the 30 shots he faced to drop his record to 5-6-1 on the season.
Jarome Iginla had a power-play goal for Colorado with just over two minutes left to play.
Laine opened the scoring at 7:06 of the second, taking a Scheifele feed for a one-timer on a two-on-one rush. Laine's 18 goals keep the 18-year-old securely in third in the NHL goal scoring race behind Boston's David Pastrnak (19) and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby (21).
Wheeler's ninth of the season came on a two-on-one rush as Mathieu Perreault set him up at 2:54 of the third.
The Jets penalty kill, which has struggled this season — entering Sunday ranked 28th in the league at 75.6 per cent — killed off two of three Colorado power plays. The Jets have now allowed nine power-play goals in their previous five games, capped most recently by the Florida Panthers' on Thursday where their then-30th-ranked power play went a perfect three-for-three with the man-advantage on Thursday night.
Winnipeg — now 10-1-0 when leading after two periods this season — widen their lead over Colorado in the Central Division, with the Avalanche now 10 points back of sixth-place Winnipeg's 33 points.
The Jets have now completed the home portion of their pre-holiday break schedule, with two games on Tuesday and Thursday - both in Vancouver - in a rare double-dip against the Canucks.
Colorado now travels to Minnesota to finish a quick two-game divisional road trip with a matchup against the Wild on Tuesday. The Avalanche finish the unofficial first half of their schedule by hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday and visiting the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday before the Christmas break.