Marino scores winner as Devils down Avalanche 5-3

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — John Marino scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period and Vitek Vanecek made 35 saves as the New Jersey Devils beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 on Tuesday night.

After the Avalanche tied the contest with two quick goals earlier in the third, Marino put New Jersey ahead at 17:43 with his fourth goal of the season.

Jesper Bratt, Dawson Mercer, Chris Tierney and Erik Haula also scored for New Jersey, which had lost two in a row. Nico Hischier had two assists.

”We’ve been resilient the whole year,” Marino said. “Give up the lead and got to come back and win that game against a great team, so hopefully it goes a long way for us.”

Trailing 3-1 just over eight minutes into the third, Colorado defensemen Cale Makar and Samuel Girard scored 29 seconds apart to tie the game. The Avalanche have 42 goals and 158 points from defensemen to lead the league.

Makar’s goal came at 8:29, followed by Girard’s at 8:58. Makar has 306 points in 284 career games, one point shy of tying Tyson Barrie as the highest scoring defenseman in franchise history.

Mikko Rantanen also scored and Jonathan Drouin had two assists for the Avalanche, who lead the league with 70 third-period goals.

“We were chasing the game a little bit,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ”We were doing some good things right down to two minutes left. It was a slapshot right in the middle of the hash marks that cost us.”

Bratt’s 20th goal of the season came against Avalanche rookie netminder Justus Annunen at 3:49 of the middle period to put New Jersey ahead after the teams traded goals in the first.

Bratt, who leads New Jersey with 52 points, reached the 20-goal mark for the third straight season. He had a career-high 32 goals last year.

Mercer made it 3-1 with his 14th goal at 6:47 of the second.

“I thought we played a heck of a game,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. ”We have to win at home.”

The Devils were playing for the first time since Jan. 27, when they lost 6-3 at Tampa Bay.

Vanecek, who won 33 games last season in his first campaign with the Devils, improved to 17-8-2.

“He was solid for us all night, and obviously we feed off that so it was huge,” Marino said.

Rantanen opened the scoring 1:23 into the contest with his 28th of the season, intercepting a Devils clearing attempt and rifling the puck past Vanecek.

Tierney tied it 42 seconds later with his first goal of the season and first with the Devils.

Annunen played for Colorado after starter Alexandar Georgiev played in Monday’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers. He had 26 saves.

Devils forward Tyler Toffoli, who leads the team with 21 goals, was scratched because of illness.

New Jersey’s Jack Hughes missed his 11th straight game with an upper-body injury. Hughes, who has 15 goals and 45 points in 32 games, hasn’t played since Jan. 5 when he was hurt late in a home win over Chicago. Hughes has been skating with the team in practice in recent days.

New Jersey was also still without injured defensemen Dougie Hamilton, Jonas Siegenthaler and Brendan Smith.

The game marked the return to New Jersey for Miles Wood, who played 402 games over parts of eight seasons for the Devils before joining the Avalanche as a free agent last summer.

“The buildup was more weird than the actual game for me,” said Wood. “I spent a lot of time here. It was great to see everyone.”

Colorado’s leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon had his 14-game points streak snapped. He had extended the streak by scoring Colorado’s only goal in Monday’s loss to the Rangers.

Vanecek denied MacKinnon 28 seconds before Marino scored, a play Ruff cited as especially key.

“You can sum up the game right there,” Ruff said. ”You need a big save and he did a great job.”

Up Next:

Devils: Host Calgary on Thursday night.

Avalanche: Visit Carolina on Thursday night to continue six-game road trip.

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