The top two lines did the heavy lifting for the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, propelling the team to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche. The win marked the third straight and fifth in the last six games for the Kings, who improved their record to 8-6-2 on the season.
The Kings got off to a quick start when team captain Dustin Brown scored just 58 seconds into the game. Brown launched a slap shot past Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov off a one-time pass from Justin Williams, scoring his fifth goal of the season and second in the last two games. Anze Kopitar also earned an assist on the play.
Jeff Carter made it 2-0 before the period was over, taking a pass from Mike Richards in the high slot and beating Varlamov to the stick side. Defenseman Slava Voynov also picked up an assist on Carter's team-high ninth goal of the season.
Forward Milan Hejduk scored the loan goal for the Avalanche on a power-play goal that cut the lead to 2-1 1:16 into the second period. Varlamov stopped 22 of 26 shots for Colorado, who dropped to 7-8-1 on the season. The Avalanche had won five straight meetings against the Kings dating back to 2011.
Last season's rookie of the year, Gabriel Landeskog, returned to action on Saturday after missing 11 straight games due to a concussion. The 20-year-old team captain played slightly more than 19 minutes against the Kings, getting off just two shots on net in the loss.
Moments after Hejduk’s goal cut the lead in half, Trevor Lewis answered with the Kings’ first short-handed goal of the season at 2:51 of the second period. Jarret Stoll got the scoring play started when he sacrificed his body to block a shot, rebounding the puck back up the ice towards the Avalanche zone. Lewis controlled the loose puck and flipped it through the legs of Varlamov for his second goal of the season, and fourth point of the week.
Anze Kopitar made it 4-1, beating Varlamov with a snapshot from the slot after receiving a backhand pass from Dustin Penner at 16:42 of the middle frame. For Kopitar, it was his second point on the afternoon, and 12th of the season (5 goals, 7 assists). Second-year forward Dwight King also picked up an assist on the play.
The Kings were the more physical team in Saturday’s contest, out-hitting the Avalanche 39-30 overall. Brown, who has really picked up the physical play as of late, was responsible for nine of those hits alone. He now has accumulated a total of 17 hits during the Kings’ current three-game win streak.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 23 of 24 shots for the Kings, improving his record to an even 5-5-2 on the season. After a rough start to the season, Quick has allowed just one goal in each of his last two starts.
Los Angeles honored former right wing Ian Laperriere prior to Saturday’s game, and the team wore it’s forum blue and gold throwback jersey’s as a part of its annual “Legends Series”. Laperriere played 15 seasons in the NHL, including nine with the Kings and four with the Avalanche.
The Kings also observed a moment of silence before the game for former owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who died Monday at the age of 80. Buss bought the Kings, Lakers, the Forum sports arena, and a large California ranch for $67.5 million in 1979. He owned the Kings for 9 years, from 1979-1987.
The Kings will host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday at 7:30 PM PST.
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