LOS ANGELES (AP) The team was dragging and maybe Dustin Brown was, too.
The Los Angeles Kings, fresh off an eight-game winning streak, had suddenly lost three of four. And midway through the third period Thursday night, they were in danger of being shut out for the first time this season.
But then Alec Martinez scored from the blue line and the Kings turned to Brown, playing his 1,000th NHL game. His goal 44 seconds into overtime gave Los Angeles a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
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”It was fitting. Almost poetic justice,” Kings coach John Stevens said. ”It was really, really nice to see him get the winning goal in that situation.
”The accolades and the compliments you give Brownie, I don’t think you can overdo it.”
It was the 13th goal of the season for Brown, one shy of his total from last season and two more than he’d managed in the two previous seasons.
Many, if not most, thought Brown’s career had ebbed three years ago. Now age 33, few anticipated a revival.
”I think Brownie deserves credit for what’s happened,” Stevens said. ”He came in ready to go. There’s nothing given in this game – it’s earned.
”I think he got off track there a little bit, but he was honest with what kind of player he wanted to be and was willing to do the work to become that kind of player again. I know a lot of people are surprised, but I’m not surprised.”
The Avalanche had won four of their last six and outplayed the Kings for most of the night, but were clinging to just a 1-0 lead. Gabriel Landeskog put Colorado ahead midway through the second period, whistling in a wrist shot from beyond the circle.
”I liked the way we played tonight,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ”We were patient. They made a couple of pushes and we did a good job of weathering the storm.”
Martinez’s long goal against Semyon Varlamov found its way through traffic to the back of the net.
”They throw it to the net from a point that has eyes and finds its way through a crowd,” Bednar said.
The goal gave a lethargic-looking Kings team life. Suddenly they began attacking and playing with more confidence, the approach paying off when Brown skated down the far side and rifled his shot past Varlamov.
”The big picture was really nice. Probably for me, a memory,” Brown said. ”We didn’t play very good. But good teams find a way to win when maybe they shouldn’t.”
Varlamov made 25 saves, including several outstanding stops for Colorado.
”I thought we played very well today defensively,” he said. ”We just didn’t score. If we scored a second goal I think we win this game. But LA is a really good team playing at home. They never give up.”
It was the 10th time this season the Kings won after allowing the first goal, a league best.
And this time Brown won it on his milestone night.
”I can’t say enough about Brownie,” Martinez said. ”He’s been an unbelievable leader and a huge part of this organization ever since he was drafted when he was 18.
”He’s been through a lot in this organization and had a lot of ups and downs, but he’s never wavered.”
NOTES: Brown has played his entire career with the Kings. Dave Taylor (1,111 games) is the only other player to have played his first 1,000 games for Los Angeles. . Landeskog’s goal was his 14th of the season. He trails Nathan MacKinnon by one for the team lead. … Jonathan Quick stopped 31 shots for the Kings.
Avalanche: End their two-game road trip Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes.
Kings: Travel to San Jose to play the Sharks on Saturday.
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