Avalanche Panthers Hockey

Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) battles for position against Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

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.”

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