DENVER — Two of the NHL’s top offensive juggernauts went head-to-head for the first time. It was a battle of superstars led by Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, who entered the matchup with an NHL-best 30 points, and Colorado’s Cale Makar, who trailed by three points. Both have been the hottest players in November. On the eve of Thanksgiving, it had all the ingredients to be an all-time classic.

But the officiating spoiled the show.

Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson was ejected in a penalty-filled second period, which slowed the pace and excitement way down for 20 minutes. Manson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct following a lengthy review for a cross-check on Brock Boeser that lacked the violent nature of a play deemed worthy of an ejection. The teams combined for six minor penalties in addition to Manson’s 15 PIMs in that period alone.

Manson and Boeser were battling in front of the Avalanche goal, and Boeser cross-checked Manson first. He ended up serving a two-minute minor for that. But as the battle continued, Manson retaliated by getting his stick up high. Boeser’s face made contact with the stick and he went down to sell the call. But it didn’t look like Manson made any type of forward motion with his arms to result in such an egregious call.

“My first instinct was, Boeser goes at him with the cross-check and he goes a little bit higher and their arms ride up,” head coach Jared Bednar said describing the quick replay he reviewed. “I didn’t think there was a lot there.”

Colorado went on to score three goals in the third period to earn a decisive 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Ball Arena. The Avs led 2-1 at the time of Manson’s penalty and goalie Alexandar Georgiev quickly conceded the game-tying goal during the ensuing 4-on-4. But that was the only goal the Canucks would score the rest of the way.

“I didn’t feel like it was a huge thing,” Georgiev said of Manson’s penalty. “Maybe the league and the refs can review it and see if it was worth a big major and a game misconduct.”

Georgiev made 27 saves, including all seven shots he faced in the third period to earn his league-leading 11th win. The Avs are 12-6-0 through 18 games and Georgiev has dressed in all but two of them.

Valeri Nichushkin, Jonathan Drouin, Riley Tufte, Mikko Rantanen and Makar all scored for the Avalanche, who surrendered the first goal of the evening to Nils Hoglander, earning yet another come-from-behind victory.

It was a combination of a strong effort from players already heating up, and some much-needed help from the depth. Makar assisted on Drouin’s tally before scoring on the breakaway in the third period to increase his point streak to eight games. He has a whopping 18 points during that stretch. Makar is also tied for the league lead with Hughes with 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 10 games in the month of November.

Nichushkin got the first of the night for the Avs on the power play to knot things up at 1-1. It was his seventh goal in seven games since the birth of his first child.

And just over a minute later, Drouin redirected a Makar laser from the blue line for his second of the season and second point in just 1:06. Drouin was also on the top power-play unit, replacing Ryan Johansen. He had the secondary assist on the Nichushkin goal.

With the game tied up at 2-2, the Avalanche entered the third period looking for a hero and found it in a recent call-up. Tufte was practicing with the Colorado Eagles earlier in the day when he got the call that he would be joining the team. He quickly made the drive to Denver and was inserted into the lineup, replacing Logan O’Connor (lower body) on the third line.

Tufte used his size to battle the Vancouver defender in the crease and plant himself as a screen in front of netminder Thatcher Demko. While he was setting up for an eventual goal, Ross Colton found Miles Wood, who was able to fire it from above the circle for the deflection off Tufte and past Demko.

Tufte’s tally was his first in an Avalanche uniform in his fourth game.

” I was trying to get in front of the net. Get in the goalie’s eyes when he shot it,” Tufte told me. “It hit something on me, my pants or something. So I was just trying to have a good net presence there and it hit me and it went in.”