Golden Knights Avalanche Hockey

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith, front, is tied up by Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Tuesday in Denver.

DENVER — Any laid groundwork gave way Tuesday night for the Colorado Avalanche, looking to build on a gritty shootout victory and start their first winning streak of the season.

Colorado (2-4) was bested again by the Vegas Golden Knights, the team that ended its season in June. Dealing with injury issues, the Golden Knights outplayed their hosts early and held on in a 3-1 win at Ball Arena.

“To me, that was a big game tonight. It’s against a team that we don’t have a lot of love for. (They) put us out of the playoffs last year,” coach Jared Bednar said. “And then we started poorly. So there it is. I can’t say there’s no level of concern.”

Defenseman Cale Makar scored the only Colorado goal in the final minute of the second period.

“There's no panic at all. Slow starts happen,” Makar said. “We just have to build off it as team. It just builds character.

“We move on and learn from our mistakes. We’ll find a groove here.”

The Avalanche power play hasn’t connected often enough, scoring twice through six games at a 9.1% conversion rate — third to last in the league. The bigger problem arose when William Karlsson scored shorthanded.

“That shouldn’t happen,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said.

Karlsson and Chandler Stephenson sent the Golden Knights into the first period break with a 2-0 lead. Stephenson was perfectly placed when a shot from a blue line bounced off a jumble of bodies. Karlsson then broke away and found an opening through J.T. Compher and Darcy Kuemper (26 saves).

Kuemper kept the score at 2-0, bodying down several point-blank chances. A lunging save on the penalty kill was one of his best.

Colorado blueliner Jack Johnson threw Keegan Kolesar to the ice, then threw down with Nicolas Roy, right in front of the Vegas bench late in the second period. Johnson’s five-minute interference penalty combined with Roy’s instigator penalty created a 4-on-4, during which Makar accepted a Nathan MacKinnon feed and scored with 37 seconds left before the break.

Colorado’s power play may be toward the bottom of the league, but Vegas (2-4) hasn’t scored a power play goal yet this season. The Avalanche penalty kill extended that run, finishing off the Johnson major.

Evgenii Dadonov last touched Vegas' empty netter.

“We're sort of stumbling and bumbling along right now so there is a level of concern,” Bednar said.

“There’s some things I like, it’s just too sporadic.”

The Avalanche will make a quick trip to St. Louis for a Thursday game, then return home to face the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

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