DENVER — Just when it started to feel like the doubt was settling in, the Avalanche put together one of their patented high-flying, dominant one-sided performances on Saturday.

Colorado used a 29-save shutout from goalie Pavel Francouz and a dominant 60-minute effort to defeat the Ottawa Senators 7-0 at Ball Arena. The victory ends the Avs’ recent two-game slide, giving them their second triumph in nine games and first in regulation since Dec. 17.

“We played great tonight. Right from the drop of the puck,” head coach Jared Bednar said.

Mikko Rantanen and Alex Newhook scored in the first period to give the Avs a much-needed first-period lead. The Avs had been struggling to score in the opening period in recent weeks, let alone take a lead into the intermission.

Rantanen and Newhook, along with forward Artturi Lehkonen had two goals, each. Defenseman Brad Hunt also had a goal.

Colorado’s ability to aggressively turn any zone entry into a scoring opportunity was also a change from recent weeks. The shift in their mindset seemed to happen in the opening frame.

Early in the first period, Evan Rodrigues closed in on goalie Anton Forsberg. Rather than shooting, he tried to force a pass to Nathan MacKinnon that ended up bouncing back toward center ice. It was the type of play you’d see from a team of players gripping their sticks too tight.

But just moments later, Rantanen accepted a drop pass from MacKinnon and fired it from the circle to make it 1-0. Two minutes later, Newhook wired one through traffic past Forsberg off a setup from Andrew Cogliano. Colorado finally felt like it was playing with the confidence and the results reflected that.

“That might have been the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” Bednar said of Newhook, who had gone 11 games without a goal and scored just once in his previous 17.

“You just have to realize that you have to have fun playing hockey too,” goalie Pavel Francouz added.

Lehkonen’s second-period tally was another big moment for a team fighting out of a slump. It was the first three-goal lead the Avalanche have had in any game since Nov. 26 — a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. Thanks to that tally, and Rantanen’s eventual 29th of the year, Bednar was able to lighten the workload on some of his top guys in the third period. And the team still added three more goals.

Cale Makar played 16:31 through two periods but just 5:19 in the third. His defensive partner Devon Toews was at 16:17 entering the third before playing just 5:31. MacKinnon (4:50) and Rantanen (5:19) also saw their third-period ice-time drop considerably from the pace they were at through 40 minutes. Rantanen finished the game with just 17:19 in total time on ice.

“It’s because we were able to play with the lead,” Bednar said. “Like that’s the biggest thing, you play with the lead, you get a little bit of breathing room and then you don’t have to lean on those guys and tax them as much.”

Darren Helm’s injury on Thursday led to the call-up of Sampo Ranta. But Bednar also made another change, healthy-scratching Jacob MacDonald and inserting Andreas Englund into the lineup as a seventh defenseman. With both Englund and Kurtis MacDermid on the blue line, Colorado dressed its two toughest skaters.

Englund ended up dropping the gloves in the second period in a heavyweight battle with Austin Watson. And later on, MacDermid laid out Derick Brassard with a heavy, albeit clean hit in front of Ottawa’s bench. Most importantly, dressing both of them gave Bednar an opportunity to utilize the extra body on the blueline to lighten the load for Makar and Toews. Bednar preferred it to the alternative of dressing a 12th forward only for them to play a handful of minutes.

“We had some forwards that weren’t playing much,” he said. “If we can get something a little extra out of our D and give Cale and Toews a little rest, then that’s what we’ll do. So just the way the lineup shook up tonight. We thought we’d give it a try. Liked the way it worked.”