DENVER — The shot discrepancy doesn’t always tell the full story. In a rematch of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, the Avalanche were outshot 38-23 by the Tampa Bay Lightning but never felt like the game wasn’t in their control. Colorado scored the first three goals on its way to a 4-1 victory on Monday, improving to 15-6 on the season and 7-1 in its last eight games.

The Lightning struggled to take control at times. And when they did, goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who made 37 saves, was up to the task.

“Overall, I think we played smart hockey,” Georgiev said after earning his league-leading 13th win of the season. “The other team got so many penalties because we were skating well and that was the difference. We got a lot of power plays and had the momentum a lot.”

Colorado used a strong power play to build its lead to 3-0. It was the goal that seemingly put the game to bed. And it came after the Avs were a perfect 2-for-2 on the penalty kill in the opening period, stopping Tampa Bay’s strong PP for a full four minutes.

The Avs now have a power-play goal in eight straight games after early-season struggles.

“If you look at the last eight games, we have a power-play goal in every game and PK has only allowed two,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s a huge part of winning. When you’re getting quality saves and quality starts from your goaltenders, when you’re checking hard and you’re producing enough offense, it often comes down to special teams and if we’re winning that battle and getting one every night and shutting the other team down, you’re gonna give yourself a real good chance to win.”

Ryan Johansen had two goals, Cale Makar had the power-play goal and Valeri Nichushkin added an empty netter. Nathan MacKinnon also pitched in with two assists, reaching 21 helpers in as many games.

Johansen got the scoring started off an unfortunate turnover by the Lightning. Forward Tyler Motte, deep in the Avs zone, attempted to backhand it back to his teammate Victor Hedman. The towering defenseman missed the pass and fell over when he tried to retrieve it, allowing Johansen to pick up the loose puck and set up a two-on-one with Jonathan Drouin. Johansen looked off his teammate, elected to shoot, and beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 1-0.

“My first thought is always to make a pass and see if that’s a good option, to get the goalie moving side to side,” Johansen told me. “I felt their d-man just stuck with Drouin so then I figured the best option was to shoot it.”

The goal stood as the only tally of the first period despite Colorado taking the only two penalties. The Lightning entered the matchup boasting the league’s second-best power play, which was operating at a whopping 34.5 percent. They ended the night 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

Early in the second period, the Avs used another Johansen goal to double their lead. Tomas Tatar and Makar were setting up a two-on-one attack. Makar found Tatar, but Vasilevskiy made a sliding pad save to stop him. The rebound shot right out to the slot for Johansen, who buried it on the open net.

Johansen is up to nine goals and one assist through the first 21 games. He struggled to produce at even strength for the majority of the season but now has three goals in two games, all of which have come in five-on-five play. He has not recorded an assist since Oct. 21.

“It’s weird, actually. It’s a funny game. My whole career has been more about assists and playmaking and now it’s goal scoring,” Johansen said. “But that just goes to show that all the guys around me in this room are doing the right things so I can get a lot of scoring opportunities.”

On the ensuing faceoff, Lightning defenseman Calvin De Haan was called for tripping, setting the Avalanche up with their first power play of the evening. The top unit was exceptional on the man advantage, cycling the puck in the Tampa Bay zone with ease. The puck eventually ended up back on Makar’s stick and he fired it through traffic and past Vasilevskiy to build on the lead.

Lightning forward Anthony Cirelli eventually scored on the breakaway with 31 seconds remaining in the middle frame. Earlier in the period, Mike Eyssimont thought he had a goal, but a lengthy review following a coach’s challenge for offside waived it off.

Nichushkin’s empty-net goal was his 10th of the season — nine of which have come in the last 10 games.