DENVER — An abundance of energy filled the air at Ball Arena during the pre-game festivities. But it was all washed away by the time the second period was winding down. The Avalanche began their Stanley Cup championship defense by doing something they didn’t do all of last year’s run: Trail in a series. The second-year expansion Seattle Kraken scored the first goal and led for a majority of the night on Tuesday, defeating the Avs 3-1 to take a 1-0 series lead at Ball Arena.

Colorado had a response for the first Kraken goal but was unable to get much else going after that. The Kraken were 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and played a responsible tight-checking game. They held the Avs’ speed at bay and frustrated the Central Division champs all night. Especially in the third period where Nathan MacKinnon and company trailed by two goals but struggled to generate any dangerous offensive pressure.

“I thought we shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times,” MacKinnon said. “Our focus is to move on and try to get a win Thursday.”

Listen to “Seattle Takes Game 1 over the Avalanche” on Spreaker.

Head coach Jared Bednar pulled his goalie with 4:28 remaining, but just 27 seconds later, Colorado was whistled for a slashing penalty to negate the 6-on-5 advantage and instead need to kill off a penalty as the game was winding down. It was just one of many examples of how their execution was not up to par.

“I didn’t like our execution that was probably the first thing that stood out to me,” Bednar said. “In a lot of areas of the ice, not just on our attack.”

Cale Makar and Josh Manson returned for Game 1, giving the Avalanche what they thought was a healthy blueline for the first time in 72 games. Makar, Manson, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, Bowen Byram and Jack Johnson were expected to be the six defensemen. But after the pre-game skate wrapped up, Johnson was announced as a late scratch with a lower-body injury. Erik Johnson instead took his place, which jumbled the pairings and led to one of the worse defensive showings as a unit — despite having fully health to the top five.

Manson, especially, struggled in his return. He played just 27 regular-season games. Manson took two minor penalties in the first period and wasn’t able to gain much confidence the rest of the way. And on the opening goal, Toews turned the puck over right in front of goalie Alexandar Georgiev, which led directly to a goal for Eeli Tolvanen.

“Not good enough. Our whole team just wasn’t quite good enough,” Bednar said of his blueline.

Superstar forward Mikko Rantanen scored the Avalanche’s lone goal. He crashed the crease and tipped in a pass from MacKinnon. The duo both had career years in the regular season and the goal looked to be a sign of things to come for the Avs duo. But the Kraken had other plans.

Former Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer was solid in goal for the Kraken. He hasn’t appeared in the postseason since he was with the Avs in 2021 and made 34 saves to collect his first playoff win with Seattle.