Paul Stastny scored two goals, Semyon Varlamov stopped 32 shots and the Colorado Avalanche beat Los Angeles 4-1 on Wednesday night for their first season sweep of the Kings in nearly two decades.
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Mark Olver and Jay McClement also added goals for the Avalanche, who have won three straight at home and moved to within two points of Los Angeles for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Colorado went 4-0 against Los Angeles this season, the first time the team has swept the series since 1992-93, when the franchise was in Quebec.
The Avalanche scored three goals in a fast first period, leading the Kings to pull Jonathan Quick, one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. Quick was replaced by Jonathan Bernier in the second.
Varlamov lost his shutout bid early in the third period when Dustin Brown deflected in Drew Doughty’s slap shot from near the blue line.
The young Russian goalie is seeing more time lately with Jean-Sebastien Giguere on the mend from a groin injury. Varlamov has had quite a bit of success against the Kings so far in his career, going 3-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average.
Steve Downie made his debut with the Avalanche after being acquired Tuesday from Tampa Bay for defenseman Kyle Quincey, who was subsequently dealt to Detroit for a first-round pick and a minor leaguer.
The 24-year-old Downie arrived in the Mile High City late Tuesday and was so eager to get to the rink that he hardly slept.
”It was disappointing taking off on the plane (and leaving the Lightning),” he said. ”But it was even more exciting landing.”
Downie led the Lightning in penalty minutes (121) and fighting majors (5).
He was paired with Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog on the team’s top line.
Downie didn’t take long to make his presence known – and felt – as he decked Justin Williams with a crushing blow along the boards in the opening minute. He also drew his first penalty when he tripped Williams later in the first.
Colorado jumped all over Quick early in the game, with Olver scoring on a wrist shot, Stastny taking advantage of a turnover deep in the Kings zone with a wraparound goal and McClement tipping in a pass from O’Reilly.
Quick struggled for the second straight night. The Kings blew a three-goal lead in a 5-4 shootout loss at Phoenix on Tuesday.
Quick has allowed seven goals in his last two outings, but still has a 1.92 goals-against average.
With the Avalanche out to a big early lead, things got chippy in the second period. So much so that five players were sent to the box on one play, three for roughing and two for misconduct.
Later in the second, Stastny added his second goal of the game, beating Bernier as he fell backward. It was Stastny’s second multi-goal game of the season.
Matt Duchene suited up for a game on home ice for the first time since Dec. 29. He was out for nearly eight weeks with a knee injury.
Duchene said this was his longest layoff from hockey since he was 12 years old and broke his leg.
The skillful scorer took advantage of the down time by watching hockey – lots of it – and catching up on his reading. He’s finishing up Drew Brees’ book ”Coming Back Stronger: Unleashing the Hidden Power of Adversity.”
”I’ve been reading it before game days,” said Duchene, who had an assist on Stastny’s second goal. ”I used the time to not only heal my body, but heal my mind as well. Now, I feel really refreshed physically and mentally.”
NOTES: Avalanche D Erik Johnson (back spasms) didn’t return after the first period. … Avalanche F T.J. Galiardi (shoulder) skated with the team in the morning workout. … Kings F Dustin Penner was a scratch for the fifth time in six games.