After getting back to basics, the Los Angeles Kings are no longer winless and far less frustrated.
They can build on that initial victory by continuing their success over the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.
In danger of opening with four straight losses for the first time in club history, Los Angeles (1-3-0) didn’t panic but spent its practice time working to solve those early problems. It finally paid off with Friday’s 2-1 overtime victory over Minnesota.
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"We needed to get down to the fundamentals and what we were doing and get everyone on the same page," forward Jeff Carter said.
Tyler Toffoli had a power-play goal and Anze Kopitar scored 2:19 into overtime to provide a needed boost for a franchise that failed to make the playoffs a year after winning its second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
”It’s definitely a big step for us," said Carter, who assisted on Toffoli’s goal. ”The first three games were pretty much a wash for us; we didn’t really get anything out of them. I’m glad we came out with a better mindset right from that. We played more our style of game. And when we do that, usually good things happen.”
The Kings still have much room to improve.
They’ve totaled four goals, with Toffoli’s the lone power-play score on 17 chances. Opponents are 3 for 20 with the man advantage, but the Kings’ 16:45 penalty minutes per game led the NHL heading into the weekend.
But as Carter felt, Friday’s effort was more indicative of the team’s expectations.
"We were able to establish more zone time," forward Milan Lucic told the NHL’s official website. "We were better through the neutral zone. We were better supporting each other. We were able to get more chances; it’s just about executing and finishing them off."
Jonathan Quick has allowed three goals on 51 shots in the last two games after giving up nine on 54 in the first two.
"We’ve got Colorado coming in (Sunday), so we’ll turn our focus towards them," said Quick, who has a 1.38 goals-against average during his five-game winning streak against the Avalanche.
Los Angeles has also won five straight over Colorado (2-2-0), and earned at least one point in the last eight meetings.
The Avalanche bounced back from Wednesday’s 6-2 defeat to Boston by winning their road opener, 3-0 at Anaheim on Friday.
"I’m very proud of our players," coach Patrick Roy told the Avalanche’s official website. "They showed a lot of character. We had to come up with a big performance."
Backup Reto Berra made 35 saves for his second career shutout. Berra has stopped all 40 shots he’s faced this season and could make his first start against Los Angeles and second straight in place of Semyon Varlamov, who yielded 13 goals while posting a 5.07 GAA and .841 save percentage in the first three contests.
"(Berra’s) been good," Roy said. "In training camp, he played well. (Goaltending coach) Francois (Allaire), before we left, said he was practicing really well and he was sharp."
Avs forward John Mitchell didn’t score more than 12 goals in any of his first seven seasons but has one in each of the four games. He doesn’t have a goal in 11 against the Kings.
Carter has seven goals and three assists during a seven-game point streak against Colorado.