LOS ANGELES (AP)Playing the second game of a back-to-back set, the Colorado Avalanche looked tired. They weren’t able to bombard the Los Angeles Kings with their typical offensive brilliance, finding themselves on the wrong side of a 14-shot disparity.
And they still won.
Kiefer Sherwood scored his first goal in nearly three years, Mikko Rantanen had a power-play goal and the Avalanche stayed hot with a 4-1 victory over the Kings on Thursday night.
”You know, we’re used to having the puck for long stretches of time, and that wasn’t really the case tonight,” said Darcy Kuemper, who made 40 saves. ”But we found a way to win in a different style, and that’s really important.”
Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Devon Toews also scored for the Avalanche, who have won five straight and are 10-0-1 in their past 11 after also defeating Anaheim 2-0 on Wednesday.
Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the Kings, who have lost three straight.
”We need some things for us to go right for us offensively,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. ”We explode for five or six (goals) and then all of a sudden, we’re back down to one or two.”
Despite taking a 2-0 lead at 3:06 of the second period, with Sherwood whipping around for a wrist shot on a loose puck in the right circle to score his first goal of the season, Anze Kopitar got the Kings back within a goal at 2-1 on the power play at 8:58 after Kuemper took himself out of the play trying to cut off an angle.
Los Angeles kept creating chances and just lacked a finishing touch, which gave Colorado a chance to regroup while still carrying the lead into the third.
”Even just the simplest of tasks, plays, breakouts, regroups, we were not moving the puck efficiently. … And to me, that’s a sign of fatigue. We didn’t look like we had a lot of energy,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. ”We had a talk after the second period and just said, `We just got to come together. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”’
Aube-Kubel did just that, coming out of the penalty box at the right time after an unnecessary foul in the offensive zone and collecting Logan O’Connor’s stretch pass to score on a breakaway and restore a two-goal lead at 4:11.
”I think he didn’t see me at first and then he was about to clear it, and then he kind of like slowed his motion down,” Aube-Kubel said. ”That’s why the pass wasn’t like really sharp.”
Toews got an empty-netter with 1:35 remaining.
”Well, we played with them,” McLellan said. ”I think last year at the end of the year it wasn’t a real game when we played against ’em, but we didn’t have a lot of the pieces that we have right now. … I really believe we can play with any team in the league.”
LONG TIME COMING
Sherwood had not scored since March 26, 2019, when he was a rookie with the Ducks – going 38 games over the past four seasons without finding the back of the net.
BACK AT IT
Kings C Quinton Byfield, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, made his season debut. Byfield was set to make the team coming out of training camp before breaking his ankle in a preseason game on Oct. 5, and his return was further delayed after testing positive for COVID-19 in late December.
”I think I was definitely a lot more comfortable,” said Byfield, who had an assist in six games last season. ”Last year, it was still my first pro year, and it was kind of weird playing with all the people you grew up watching almost, you know, playing against all those guys. Now I’ve just got a feeling I know I can play with them and contribute a little bit.”
FAR FROM HOME
Los Angeles will play 10 of its next 11 on the road, returning home Feb. 15 against Edmonton in a game that was postponed from December because of concerns about cross-border travel.
NOTES: Colorado is 15-1-1 in its past 17 games. … Kings F Dustin Brown played in his 1,270th career game, passing Brett Hull (1,269) for seventh-most among United States-born players. … Rantanen also had an assist, giving him five goals and three assists in his past five games. … Avalanche D Tyson Jost played in his 300th career game. … Kings D Mikey Anderson played in his 100th game.
Avalanche: Host Montreal on Saturday night.
Kings: At New Jersey on Sunday night.
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