After being in control most of the way, the Los Angeles Kings had to do some serious scrambling to avoid blowing a four-goal lead in the final seven minutes.
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Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist, Jarret Stoll and defenseman Drew Doughty scored power-play goals, and the Kings held on to beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Saturday.
David Jones scored two goals 39 seconds apart for the Avalanche and teammate Paul Stastny scored his 19th with 30 seconds remaining to make it a one-goal game.
”We were pretty happy with the game we played,” Doughty said after the Kings outshot Colorado 42-17. ”We dominated pretty much the whole thing, but obviously we’re not happy with our lapse at the end. Good teams shut games down, and we didn’t do that.”
Defenseman Alec Martinez also scored for the Kings, 11-1-3 since Jan. 22 following a 2-10 stretch. Los Angeles is 19-0 when leading after two periods.
”We made it interesting at the end, just getting too casual and a little careless with some plays at critical times,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. ”You go into the third period with that kind of scenario, you want to make sure you lock it down. You don’t get reckless or careless and start taking some penalties. We have to clean that part up right away.”
The Avalanche had totaled only 14 shots before Kings defenseman Matt Greene was sent off for interference with 8:53 remaining. Stoll joined him in the penalty box 13 seconds later for hooking. Jones scored his first goal on a power play, and the other came one second after Stoll left the box.
”We definitely can’t be taking penalties that late in the game, because you saw what can happen. They almost caught up and took it to OT,” Doughty said. ”The 5-on-3 was a nice play that they scored on. On the other two, one was a nice tip and the other was a bad play on our part.”
Kopitar gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 7:13 of the first period with his 20th goal, converting a rebound after newly acquired Brian Elliott stopped Brad Richardson’s wraparound attempt.
”The team that wakes up first and is ready to go first is going to give themselves the best chance to win,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. ”We just need to be better. We can’t start games like that. It’s tough to play catch-up in this league.”
The Kings had a chance to add to their lead in the second period during a two-man advantage, but Elliott kept them at bay until 9:50 when Martinez beat him through a screen with a long slap shot.
”It’s something we’ve been working on,” Doughty said. ”With the goalies they have in this league nowadays, it’s pretty tough to get pucks by them if they’re seeing it. So we’ve been working on getting guys to the net, crashing hard and getting screens. And more pucks have been going in.”
Los Angeles came up empty during another two-man advantage late in the second, but the Kings cashed in on a power play just 1.1 seconds before intermission. Kopitar banked the puck off the boards back toward the right point, where Doughty took a one-timer that dribbled over the goal line after Elliott appeared to have the puck trapped between his pads.
”The 5-on-3 was good,” Murray said. ”We were in the offensive zone the whole time. We were moving the puck around, we were getting our shots, recovering pucks along the boards. We had good rotations going, and everyone was doing the right thing. We were just missing the net by a couple of inches.”
Stoll made it 4-0, using teammate Dustin Brown as a screen and beating Elliott with a slap shot while Matt Hunwick was off for hooking Kopitar.
”We took a few too many penalties,” said Elliott, who has allowed nine goals in his first two starts for the Avalanche. ”We did a good job coming back, so we’ve got to focus on that and know that we can score goals and have confidence that we can do it. We’re struggling right now, and it’s tough to hang in there. But we just have to have a good attitude.”
Notes: Kings longtime play-by-play man Bob Miller will be inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday. … The Kings are 15-3 when Kopitar scores a goal. He became the first Kings player with 20 goals in each of his first five NHL seasons since Luc Robitaille, who did it during his first eight seasons. … The Kings’ penalty-killing unit had allowed two goals in 41 short-handed situations over the previous 13 games. … The Avalanche began a three-game California swing and a 19-game stretch in which they will play 13 on the road. … The Kings are 7-0-1 in their last eight meetings with Colorado. … Ryan Smyth’s assist on Doughty’s goal was his 400th in the NHL.