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New Jersey Devils left wing Miles ...
David Zalubowski, The Associated Press
New Jersey Devils left wing Miles Wood, left, fights for control of the puck with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Mark Barberio in the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, in Denver.
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The Avalanche (12-10-2, 26 points) lost 2-1 to the visiting New Jersey Devils (15-6-4, 34 points) on Friday at the Pepsi Center. Game story is here.

THREE STARS

  1. Jesper Bratt. The Devils’ 19-year-old, first-line forward had a goal and an assist.
  2. J.T. Compher. Avs rookie forward had a goal and three shots in 19:02.
  3. Brian Boyle. Game-winning goal for New Jersey’s fourth-line forward.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

Defenseman Sami Vatanen made his Devils debut and logged a team-high 23:13.

NEXT UP

Dallas, Sunday, 6 p.m., Pepsi Center

Five takeaways:

1 Stand-up guy. Nikita Zadorov didn’t quickly take his equipment off and dodge reporters after what he admitted was a poor performance on his part. He sat at his locker stall and blamed both goals-against, and the loss, on himself. Hockey is a team game, as we all know, but those who respect the game have to respect how Zadorov handled himself.

2. Road warriors. New Jersey improved to 9-2-2 outside New Jersey, the best road record in the league. Colorado, meanwhile, drops to 8-3-1 at home, including 1-2 in its last three games at the Pepsi Center. The Avs have scored just five regulation goals in their three-game homestand.

3. Shoot the puck! The Avs posted just 23 shots on Devils goalie Cory Schneider. They had enough good looks to put at least 35 on net. “You can’t pass up on the shots,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “If you look at some of our O-zone shifts where we make some plays, we get the puck inside the dots, (and) we’re not shooting it. We’re always looking for the next play. You’re not going to get back-door tap-ins very often in this league. You got to put pucks at the net and go after rebounds.”

4. Rookie growth. Compher played 19:02, third most of his career, and he finished playing left wing on the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. “I liked the way he was skating,” Bednar said of Compher. “We need that line to go.” Compher is showing considerable growth along with a handful of other Avs, including regular linemates Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Jost and defensemen Sam Girard and Anton Lindholm. Patience, people, these guys are going to be really good.

5. Play the man, not the puck. Indeed, Zadorov should have defended differently on the game-winning goal. He needs to play the body — Brian Boyle — and not the puck. If the Avs defenseman would have boxed out, lifted the stick — whatever means possible — on Boyle, there’s no doubt goalie Semyon Varlamov would have collected the loose puck in the crease. Having a defenseman swat at a loose puck in the crease is counterproductive when the attacker is doing the same. Take the attacker’s stick away and let the goalie smother the puck.

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