Colorado’s first road trip of the season will have a losing record after a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
The Avalanche (1-3) lost their third straight, matching last season’s longest regular-season skid.
“It’s a good lesson for us early on in the season,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “We’ll get out of it. I’m not worried at all. It’s just a matter of stopping the bleeding right off the bat here.”
Landeskog returned from a two-game suspension for boarding and reunited the Avalanche’s long established top line. Mikko Rantanen scored the Avalanche’s only goal with an assist to Nathan MacKinnon. All three players were minus-2. Cale Makar was a team-worst minus-3.
On the goal, MacKinnon and Samuel Girard’s bids didn’t make it through but Rantanen scooped up a rebound and tied the game at 1.
The Avalanche generated scoring chances in the second period but two of Florida’s 23 shots on goal made it through. Sam Bennett scored a power-play goal to give the Panthers the lead permanently. With just over 46 seconds left before the break, Carter Verhaeghe pulled the puck through a cluster of Avalanche players and scored from between the circles.
“Just did not like the goals against that we gave up, again,” coach Jared Bednar said. “Seems a little too easy for them on a handful of plays tonight and it cost us.”
Jonas Johansson spelled Darcy Kuemper and made 34 saves.
Landeskog took a boarding penalty for a hit on Aaron Ekblad with 4:30 left in regulation. An empty-net goal sealed Florida’s win.
Two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay is next up. The Avalanche and Lightning play Saturday.
“We’ve got 78 games left. That’s a lot of hockey,” Landeskog said. “Start with one and obviously playing another tough opponent here in a couple of days.
“There’s no secret formula, right? We've got to work. That's what we’re doing and that’s what we’re trying to do but we’re just not a very connected group at times which is something we’ve got to get better at.”