Jonas Johansson’s save in the dying seconds was spectacular. Lars Eller’s eventual game-winning goal was strange. Every other part of Thursday’s 5-4 victory at Canadian Tire Centre was exactly the type of game the Avalanche needed given the circumstances.

It was Colorado’s third game in four nights, all on the road, with starting goalie Alexandar Georgiev earning a night off after starting seven straight games. Everything was stacked up for it to be a scheduled loss. But the Avs weren’t having it. They jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, and after attempting to fend off a late first-period attack from the Sens, they built a two-goal lead again before Eller scored what would end up standing as the game-winner on one of the more obscure goals of the season late in the second period.

Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard had the puck deep in Colorado’s zone. He circled behind the goal and shot it around the boards for what looked like an icing. The puck, however, deflected off a Senators defender along the boards, which waived the icing call. The puck laid in goalie Mats Sogaard’s crease for several seconds before Eller skated in and poked it past the netminder after realizing a whistle hadn’t blown the play dead.

Neither Sogaard, Ottawa defenseman Jake Sanderson nor Avalanche forward Logan O’Connor were aware that the play was still ongoing before Eller skated in and took advantage. The Sens challenged the play but the goal was confirmed, and the Avs took a 5-2 lead into the third period. Ottawa would later add two tallies and trail by a goal in the final moments. Which set up arguably the biggest save of Johansson’s professional career.

With 1:24 remaining in regulation, superstar center Nathan MacKinnon and Sens captain Brady Tkachuk each received minors for roughing. The teams skated four-on-four for 43 seconds before Avs defenseman Devon Toews was penalized for tripping. The Senators then had a four-on-three power play and pulled Sogaard to have a two-man advantage for the final 41 seconds of regulation.

J.T. Compher won the faceoff for the Avs and the puck was cleared quickly. But as Ottawa started the rush up the ice and got a few opportunities on goal, the puck ended up on the stick of Alex DeBrincat. He quickly released a shot but Johansson — who was way out of his crease after stopping a Tim Stutzle opportunity — pushed from left to right to just barely make a toe save with seven seconds remaining in regulation to seal the triumph for the Avs.

Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists to lead the way. MacKinnon pitched in with three helpers. Defenseman Cale Makar (goal, assist), winger Valeri Nichushkin and forward Evan Rodrigues also scored for the Avs, who have won four straight games.

Colorado (39-22-6, 84 points) is within two points of the idle Minnesota Wild for second in the Central with a game in hand. The Avs also trail Dallas by three points for first place in the division with a game in hand. The Stars are in Edmonton Thursday night for a battle against Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

Johansson finished the night with 32 saves.