Third-period comebacks are the Avalanche’s forte. They’ve successfully erased a deficit in the final 20 minutes and come away with a victory eight times. On Tuesday, they had an opportunity to do it again before a late tally from New Jersey’s John Marino ended their valiant attempt.

Colorado fell 5-3 to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. The home team had a 3-1 lead entering the final frame before the Avs scored twice in 29 seconds to tie things up. Marino’s tally with 2:17 remaining put New Jersey ahead before an empty netter just before the buzzer recovered the multi-goal lead.

The Avs are 12-10-4 on the road and 0-1-1 to start a season-long six-game road trip. Their road record is among the bottom half of teams currently in a playoff position. They have the best home record in the NHL (20-5-0).

Rather than widening the gap between themselves and the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado instead leads the Jets by just three points but has played three more games. The Avs are also tied with Dallas atop the tight Central Division but have played a game more than the Stars.

Trailing 3-1 in the third period, the Avs entered the period with new life. Despite being on the back end of a back-to-back, Colorado began to scratch and claw from the opening faceoff to erase the deficit. Following a whistle, Ross Colton and Kevin Bahl were called for offsetting roughing minors. And on the ensuing 4-on-4, Colorado quickly made its comeback.

First, Cale Makar picked up a loose puck after a poke check by Artturi Lehkonen behind the goal and quickly put it past goalie Vitek Vanecek. Then 29 seconds later, Samuel Girard fired one in off a pass from Jonathan Drouin to even things up.

Colorado had a 17-2 shot advantage entering the final three minutes of the period. It had all the momentum and an opportunity to gain its first win since the All-Star break. Instead, goalie Justus Annunen surrendered the eventual game-winner on just the third shot he faced in the frame. The Avs’ third-string netminder made just 26 saves in his second start of the season. He’s surrendered eight goals in two games in 2023-24.

Annunen was called up ahead of Monday’s return from the All-Star break with hopes of filling Colorado’s need for a backup netminder. Usual backup Ivan Prosvetov cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL’s Colorado Eagles in his place.

Annunen held his own at times but ultimately struggled in a game where the Avalanche had an opportunity to win. At least two of the goals were ones he’d likely want a do-over on.

With Annunen’s struggles, the expectation is for starter Alexandar Georgiev to continue his heavy workload while the Avalanche likely explore the trade market for another backup option. Georgiev has already appeared in 42 games this season and needs to start just 20 of the remaining 30 to match last year’s totals. Without another goalie addition, he’ll likely blow past that number.

The Avs’ next four games span over eight days before having another three nights off.

Colorado was 0-for-3 on the power play for the second consecutive night. Its power play was among the league’s hottest in the weeks leading up to the break.

The loss on Tuesday also ended Nathan MacKinnon’s 14-game point streak. The Avalanche’s top center had points in 33 of his last 34 games — including two four-goal games — before coming up empty against New Jersey. In the final minutes of regulation, MacKinnon broke in all alone with a chance to put the Avs ahead but was stoned by Vanecek.