DENVER — The inability to capitalize on a lengthy 5-on-3 power play in the third period was among the most crucial factors of the Avalanche’s loss on Thursday night. Trailing by a goal, Colorado had 47 seconds of a two-man advantage but failed to generate much. The Winnipeg Jets killed off both penalties to hold onto a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

They eventually added an empty netter to put an end to the Avs’ comeback attempt at Ball Arena, defeating them 4-2. Colorado fell to 1-2-2 in its last five games and 16-8-2 overall.

“The start of the game for me was too safe, just too vanilla,” head coach Jared Bednar said, assessing his team’s complete performance. “I felt like we lacked the intensity on the offensive side that we needed to create scoring chances and urgency on the defensive side.”

Leading the Avalanche 3-2, Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey was called for tripping just 1:17 into the third period. And 1:13 later, the officials nabbed defenseman Dylan Samberg for high-sticking off a faceoff in the Jets zone. Colorado had all its top weapons on the ice, which included Mikko Rantanen. He continues to lead the team in goals with 12 but has not scored in each of the last eight games.

Rantanen had just one shot on goal despite playing a team-high 27:17, which included 6:29 on the power play — also a team-high. Bednar admitted part of the rise in ice time was an attempt to work his superstar forward out of his slump.

“He’s doing some good things. But I still want to see him pace it up a little bit,” Bednar said. “I know it’s bugging him. So yeah, he’s still one of the most dangerous guys we have and we need him. I know he feels that but my philosophy is going to be to try and work him out of it.”

Another one of the team’s superstars, Nathan MacKinnon, has been on a tear in recent games. MacKinnon was excellent against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and carried that over into this game. He had two points, including a goal on Thursday, and has been in on each of the last seven goals the team has scored. He continues to climb the NHL’s point rankings and is now among the top five with 36, which is two more than teammate Cale Makar.

“Certainly you’d like it spread out throughout your lineup,” Bednar said. “But I’m just really happy Nate’s going. That’s two games in a row and tonight I thought he was outstanding.”

Colorado didn’t lead at any point and trailed by two goals multiple times. As has been a theme on multiple occasions this season, the Avs let up in the final minute of a period and surrendered a goal. This time it was Jets captain Adam Lowry beating goalie Alexander Georgiev with just 2.2 seconds remaining in the first period. Georgiev had been perfect to this point, even stopping Kyle Connor and David Gustafsson on point-blank opportunities earlier in the period.

“It’s pretty obvious tonight. We go back for the puck, we have time and we made the wrong decision, and turn it over,” Bednar said of the late goal. “That’s what it is. It’s decision-making.”

Georgiev admitted he wasn’t anticipating the shot from Lowry.

“I was kind of surprised and wasn’t set properly for the shot,” he said. “Quick turnover and I should have anticipated probably that that could happen.”

The late goal seemingly sucked the energy out of what was an otherwise solid period of hockey for the Avs, who had the only power-play opportunity thus far. Winnipeg’s momentum carried into the second period. After winning the faceoff to start the second, the Jets quickly found the back of the net. This time it was Connor — his 16th of the season — just 31 seconds in to make it 2-0.

MacKinnon quickly responded for the Avs. He received a pass from defenseman Devon Toews in the neutral zone and used his speed to skate past defenseman Logan Stanley before beating goalie Connor Hellebuyck one-on-one using his backhand. His 10th goal of the season put the Avs back within a goal.

The ice slowly started shifting in their favor. Colorado had 10 consecutive shots and seemed to have the upper hand on the Jets. But on its first shot in nearly half a period, Winnipeg added to its lead. Morrissey fired it from the blue line and beat Georgiev. The Avs’ netminder was being screened by teammate Sam Malinski on the play. Following the goal, Georgiev whacked the leg of Malinski, something Bednar said goalie coach Jussi Parkkila would address with him.

“Yeah, that’s my bad, like I was frustrated,” a remorseful Georgiev said postgame. “I think it was my guy that kind of jumped in front of me. I shouldn’t be frustrated. Take the game as it goes and not worry about that.”

Winnipeg’s two-goal lead again didn’t last long. Another late-period goal, this time from the Avs, made it a one-goal game before the buzzer. MacKinnon once again used his speed but sprinkled in another attribute in the process: His strength.

While skating around towering defenseman Brenden Dillon, MacKinnon stayed on his feet and kept possession of the puck despite taking a hip check from Dillon. He then sent the puck to the net front where Joel Kiviranta fired it top-shelf past Hellebuyck. The puck was in and out of the net so fast that the referees initially missed it and play continued before they got a chance to get a second look after the whistle.

in total, the two teams exchanged goals, scoring twice, each, on a combined 31 shots. Colorado had an 18-13 edge in that category. Georgiev finished the night with 25 saves for the Avs.