The Avalanche lead the NHL in come-from-behind wins. But in the first leg of a back-to-back on Monday, it was the Avs who gave up two leads before ultimately falling 4-3 to the Canadiens at Bell Centre, spoiling Jonathan Drouin’s return to Montreal. Colorado led 1-0 and 2-1 and crawled back from a 3-2 deficit. Montreal scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner with just 4:10 remaining to secure the victory. The Avs fell to 28-13-3 on the season and 10-8-3 on the road.

“Kind of an average performance by us. Not anything great, not anything bad either,” defenseman Devon Toews told reporters in Montreal. “We didn’t do enough as a team to generate.”

Drouin signed a one-year deal with the Avs on July 1 following a six-year stint with the Canadiens. He had 99 points in his first two seasons but just 87 in the final four years combined. On Monday, Drouin had one assist in 27:09 of ice time.

Colorado’s lineup was as shorthanded as it’s been all season, dressing the same lineup as it did against Toronto on Saturday. Bowen Byram remained out with a lower-body injury on the back end. And up front, Artturi Lehkonen (neck) and Miles Wood (illness) again did not play. Forward Valeri Nichushkin, who missed Saturday’s game as well, entered the NHL’s Player Assistance Program earlier in the day. He is out for an indefinite period and will need to be cleared for on-ice activities by the program’s administrators before returning.

Nichushkin had two goals in his last appearance on Wednesday.

“My goal is to address my issues and prevent any negative outcomes once and for all,” Nichushkin said in a statement released by the team. “I want to thank my wife and family, my friends, the Avalanche organization and all of our fans for their understanding and support. I will do everything I can to get back on the ice and join my teammates as soon as possible.”

Colorado had goals from Ross Colton, Cale Makar and Devon Toews. Makar had three points to lead the way offensively.

The scoring started on an early power-play opportunity. Colton’s initial chance was stopped by goalie Jake Allen before he put home the rebound. Without Nichushkin, Colton joined the top power-play unit and has done an admirable job replacing him as the net-front presence. Colton has goals in back-to-back games.

Following his tally, which came at 4:28, the Habs answered back with a power-play goal of their own. Juraj Slafkovsky beat Avs starting goalie Alexandar Georgiev to make it 1-1.

The score would hold until the second period. And just 1:01 into the middle frame, Makar fired a one-timer from the point for his 10th of the season. Montreal answered back late in the second period and went ahead for the first time early in the third period. After Mikko Rantanen was called for holding, Habs forward Cole Caufield beat Georgiev to make it 3-2 at 1:52.

Later in the period, Avs defenseman Josh Manson was whistled for interference after knocking down Jake Evans. Montreal’s Evans was called for embellishment on the play, setting up a 4-on-4. And 41 seconds later, Toews fired a one-timer set up by Rantanen to beat Allen.

Georgiev, who is expected to rest on Tuesday, made 30 saves. Colorado outshot the Habs 35-34.

Goalie Justus Annunen was called up from the Colorado Eagles on Saturday and joined the Avs on the road. He backed up Georgiev in Montreal, meaning usual backup Ivan Prosvetov was a healthy scratch. Annunen is likely to start the second leg of the back-to-back in Ottawa. It’ll be his first taste of NHL action this season.