It looked like it might be the Colorado Avalanche cruising to another win, but that turned out to be deceiving. The Avs blew a three-goal lead for the first time since Nov. 1, 2018, as the New Jersey Devils rattled off five straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory on Tuesday.
The Devils dominated the bulk of the game, outshooting Colorado in every period, and 43-26 for the game. It was Colorado’s first loss this season when leading after the first period. Tomas Tatar scored his 400th NHL goal in the win, and Jesper Bratt had three assists in the victory.
Here are three takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:
Another Milestone For Makar
Cale Makar doesn’t make history every night, but it’s starting to seem like it. The star defenseman set another club mark on Tuesday, netting an assist in his 13th straight game. That broke a 30-year-old record set by Joe Sakic – who had an assist in 12 consecutive games in 1991-92. The team wasn’t in Colorado then, as that mark was set with the Quebec Nordiques. Over the scoring streak, Makar has three goals and 18 assists.
The record-setting assist came late in the first period, on Colorado’s second goal of the game. Makar set up Mikko Rantanen’s 27th goal of the season just seven seconds into the man advantage. That gave Colorado a two-goal lead through the first 20 minutes, and Makar stretched it to 3-0 when he hammered home a rebound roughly six minutes into the second stanza.
Related: Avalanche’s Cale Makar is NHL’s Best Defenseman
Makar isn’t done making history this season. He’s knocking on the door of setting the franchise record for goals in a season by defenseman. Tuesday’s tally gave him 21 on the season, putting him just a pair of goals behind the 23 scored by Sandis Ozolinsh in 1996-97. The goal and assist on Tuesday gave him 65 points for the season, which is the most amongst NHL defensemen.
Avalanche Power Play Strikes Quickly
The New Jersey Devils hadn’t given up a power-play goal at home since the calendar rolled over to 2022. The Avalanche obliterated that streak, and it didn’t take them long. The Devils had killed their last 19 penalties at home before Tuesday, but Colorado tallied a pair of power-play goals about five minutes apart in the first period to set the tone early.
Nathan MacKinnon got the first one, knocking in his 19th of the season at the 9:04 mark of the first period to open the scoring. It was a crazy goal, as he whacked the puck out of midair and it trickled past New Jersey netminder Nico Daws. Rantanen made it 2-0 just five minutes later, giving them the two-goal lead after the first stanza. About five minutes into the second period, Makar notched his goal to make it 3-0, but then the Devils took over.
The Avalanche were 9-0 this season when scoring two power-play goals, but New Jersey’s special teams were flat out better. The final three goals by the Devils featured a pair of power-play goals, and got a short-handed empty-netter from Yegor Sharangovich to wrap things up. The game-winner came at the 13:04 mark of the third when Nathan Bastian knocked in a power-play goal for his 10th tally of the season. It was also his first goal in 12 games.
Multiple Trends Shut Down
A lot of things that had been going Colorado’s way were turned against them on Tuesday. Not only was it the first time they’d blown a three-goal lead in more than three years, but the Avalanche were 23-0 this season when leading after the first period before New Jersey added the first blemish to that mark. Rantanen had a goal and an assist on Tuesday, and the Avs had won 11 straight games in which Rantanen scored multiple points. In fact, Colorado is now a whopping 17-2 when Rantanen gets more than one point.
Maybe most impressively, the Avalanche hadn’t lost the second game of a back-to-back in regulation all season. They didn’t lose one under those circumstances last season, either. The last time Colorado lost the second game of a back-to-back in regulation was March 9, 2020, when Colorado lost to the Los Angeles Kings. If that seems like an eternity ago, it was because that game was three days before the NHL shut down that regular season due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Colorado is in the midst of one of its worst slumps of the season. The Avs have lost three of their last four, and the lone win was the wild 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Monday. The only other time the Avalanche lost three of four games this season was when they started 1-3 in the first four games of the campaign. They have one more game on this road trip, taking on the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.