DENVER — The odds were stacked against the Avalanche before the puck even dropped.
That didn't stop them from making things interesting.
Colorado was playing without its two best players -- Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog -- among others Saturday night when it hosted division rival St. Louis.
After looking like the Blues would easily run away with the victory, the Avs clawed back in the final period before ultimately falling 5-3 for their first defeat of the 2021-22 season.
Colorado was a depleted-version of itself, playing with a handful of missing players.
Landeskog was serving the first of his two-game suspension for boarding in Colorado's season opener. Although head coach Jared Bednar returned to the bench after clearing COVID-19 protocol, MacKinnon did not for the same reason and was joined by defenseman Jack Johnson.
"We obviously want to win, but I'm proud of the effort we stayed with all game," Colorado forward J.T. Compher said. "
WASTING NO TIME
Not even a full minute of regulation went by before players from both teams dropped gloves to fight.
Forty seconds in, it was Colorado forward Nazem Kadri squaring off with St. Louis forward Brayden Schenn. The scrap likely stemmed from Kadri's hit on Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in last season's playoffs that slapped Kadri with an eight-game suspension.
Fittingly, it was Faulk who scored first at the 4:12 mark of the first period to draw first blood.
St. Louis grew its lead to 3-0 on goals from Schenn and David Perron before Colorado could respond.
The Avalanche finally found the scoreboard on a goal from Andre Burakovsky and added two more from Tyson Jost and Compher to close the gap.
Colorado appeared to tie the game with less than 3 minutes left in regulation on a goal that was later overturned. Ryan O'Reilly then added an empty-net goal to secure the win for the Blues.
>>Video above: Avalanche begin quest for third Stanley Cup in team history and first in more than 20 years
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports
> Top stories curated daily just for you! Sign up for the 9NEWSLETTER to get can’t-miss stories, Next and Denver Broncos content, weather and more delivered right to your inbox.
MORE WAYS TO GET 9NEWS
Subscribe to our daily 9NEWSLETTER
HOW TO ADD THE 9NEWS APP TO YOUR STREAMING DEVICE
ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KUSA.
For both Apple TV and Fire TV, search for KUSA "9news" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.