DENVER — Ryan Johansen scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period and the Colorado Avalanche broke out of an offensive slump with a 6-3 win over the short-handed New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.
The Avalanche also got two goals from Mikko Rantanen, including an empty-net tally in the final moments. Nathan MacKinnon, Miles Wood and Ross Colton also scored, although Colton drew successive boarding and cross-checking penalties that got him ejected and gave the Devils a seven-minute power play during which they scored twice.
“I think tonight we just played to our strengths,” said Cale Makar, who finished with three assists. “It just really seemed like we got back kind of to the way we should be playing. Guys were moving their feet. That’s a pretty good indication when the team is playing well. I think a lot of guys had great games.”
Timo Meier, Dougie Hamilton and Tyler Toffoli had goals for New Jersey, which was without centers Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. Hughes missed a second game since suffering a right shoulder injury Friday night at St. Louis.
Team officials have described the status of Hughes, who has 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) in 10 games this season, as week-to-week. Hischier has missed the last five games with an upper body injury.
Colorado was missing center Fredrik Olofsson, who has been sidelined by an upper-body injury.
The Avalanche had lost three of their previous four games — all of them shutouts — but kept pace with the Devils after New Jersey scored first. The Avalanche took the lead for good when Johansen put in a shot from between the circles at 7:37 of the third. About two minutes later, MacKinnon scored on a backhand shot.
New Jersey scored twice with the man advantage in the second period around a short-handed goal by Wood as the teams went into the third period tied 3-3.
The Devils were in the power play for an extended period after Colton drew a two-minute minor for boarding Luke Hughes and a five-minute major for cross-checking Meier, who caught a blow to his face from Colton’s stick with played stopped. Colton also drew a game misconduct. He was fined $5,000 by the NHL on Wednesday. “There was a lot going on in that period,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We had to kill a little bit of a 5 on 3, they did, and we had a big power play that got us momentum again.”
Meier put in a wrist shot to even the score 2-2 at 11:04 of the second but 30 seconds later Wood shook loose on a short-handed breakaway to give the Avalanche the lead. Then Hamilton scored another power-play goal at 15:04 of the second.
“It wasn’t ideal that Ross, you know, got kicked out there,” Wood said. “But I thought our PK, we let some goals in, but I thought we responded well as a group in the third period.”
New Jersey opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game, converting on a wrist shot by Toffoli that beat goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who finished with 20 saves. Colorado evened the score at 15:50 of the first on Rantanen’s tip-in past goalie Vitek Vanecek on the power play. Vanecek stopped 26 shots.
The Avalanche went in front when Colton put in a rebound at 2:25 of the second.
New Jersey: Hosts the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Colorado: Continues its homestand Thursday night against the Seattle Kraken.
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