DENVER — The Avalanche handed the visiting Arizona Coyotes a lump of coal to take into the holiday break.

In arguably its most complete effort all month, Colorado shut down the Yotes, defeating them 4-1 on Saturday in the first of two consecutive meetings between the Central Division rivals. The Avs were dominant from the opening puck drop, even scoring three times in the second period — often the team’s biggest challenge — to take a stranglehold of the game before the third period.

“Second period might have been our most complete period of the year,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “I thought our checking game, getting back above pucks, turning pucks over in the neutral zone, getting them back in, keeping them on three-quarter ice I thought was outstanding.”

But it wasn’t just the goals. Nor was it only their defensive effort, something Bednar has challenged the team to improve on. The Avs also managed to turn the physicality up in a big way. And it was led by rugged third-line forward Miles Wood.

During Colorado’s three-goal middle period, Wood knocked Arizona defenseman J.J. Moser out of the game with a vicious but clean hit along the boards. The two were both challenging for a loose puck before Wood lowered his shoulder into Moser. The defenseman was down for several moments before skating off the ice. He did not return.

Wood was paired with Ross Colton and Jonathan Drouin on the Avs’ second line.

“They made a huge impact in the game,” Bednar said of his team’s depth. “Wood draws that penalty, we still get the scoring chance out of it. Physical. I liked those guys a lot tonight.”

Several minutes later, after a Coyotes player shot the puck out of play, Lawson Crouse dropped the gloves with Wood. Both threw several heymakers in the spirited slobber knocker tilt with Crouse landing the majority of them. The temperature was up from the onset with Cale Makar also getting in on the action. Colorado’s star defenseman threw an effective big hit behind the net earlier in the first period.

Bowen Byram, Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Manson and Fredrik Olofsson scored for the Avs, who improved to 21-11-2 on the season. Alexandar Georgiev was once again the netminder of choice. He made 24 saves to earn his league-leading 17th win of the season.

Georgiev faced just five shots in Colorado’s second-period clinic.

“That was maybe our best period all season,” Georgiev said.

Following an early goal from Byram, which came just seconds after Colorado’s first power-play opportunity expired, Nichushkin doubled the lead at 1:27 of the second period. Nichushkin accepted a pass from superstar center Nathan MacKinnon and beat goalie Connor Ingram. MacKinnon’s primary assist increased both his home and overall point streaks to 18 games.

MacKinnon has 13 goals and 22 assists during the point streak — surpassing William Nylander (17 GP) for the longest in the NHL this season. It’s also just two back of Paul Stastny (20 GP in 2006-07) for the longest in franchise history.

Nichushkin’s tally also increases his current point streak to seven games, compiling six goals and six assists. Colorado’s top-line left winger is on pace to shatter his career-best in offensive production. He’s led all forwards — and sometimes the team — in ice time in recent weeks and is scoring at more than a point per game for the first time in his career. Nichushkin has 16 goals and 33 points in 31 GP. He played 22:52 on Saturday.

“He’s a horse every night,” forward Logan O’Connor said of Nichushkin. “The hard minutes he plays, the way he plays. It’s awesome to see his game right now and where it’s gotten.”

The Avs doubled up the lead, again, in the later stages of the second period. First, Manson joined the rush, receiving a pass from Olofsson and wiring it past Ingram for his third of the season at 13:29. Then with just eight seconds remaining, veteran forward Andrew Cogliano made an incredible no-look behind-the-back pass to Olofsson for an easy tap-in goal. O’Connor tallied the secondary assist on both goals, his third multi-point effort of the season.

“That was pretty nasty by Cogs,” O’Connor said of the pass. “He was giddy after that one. I’ll be hearing [about] that one for a long time.”

The Avs’ penalty kill continues to operate as one of the best in the league. Both O’Connor and Nichushkin have played a big part in that. The duo plays big minutes on the PK, paired mostly with the top defensive pair of Devon Toews and Makar. Georgiev has also been exceptional on the PK in recent games, making several big stops while shorthanded. Colorado killed off both of Arizona’s first two opportunities on the man advantage before allowing a goal to former Av Alexander Kerfoot while shorthanded late in the third period.

The Avs are sixth in the NHL on the PK, operating at an 83.8 percent success rate.