Whether It Was The Altitude Or A Kind Of Post-Championship Haze, The Kings Slowed Down After A Fast Start In Denver, Giving Up 3 In The 3rd In A 3-1 Loss
By Lisa Dillman | LA Times
One of the more enduring standards of excellence authored by the Kings fell by the wayside Tuesday night.
Fell? More like tumbled in the third period, gasping and wheezing in the early days of a lockout-shortened season.
The Kings had not lost in regulation when leading after two periods in 95 games, going back to April 2, 2009, at Phoenix. They’d been 86-0-9 in that situation since then.
The Stanley Cup champion Kings are 0-2. They are 0 for 11 on the power play this season, the scoring has been generated by the fourth line and one of their leaders and top penalty killers, defenseman Matt Greene, is scheduled to have back surgery Thursday for a herniated disk.
“We can’t dwell on it, but we also can’t forget about it,” said Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi.
Scuderi, who was victimized on Colorado’s first goal by forward Gabriel Landeskog a minute into the third period, was referring to the rare third-period collapse.
That goal tied the score, 1-1, and sent the Kings reeling.
“The shot [by Jan Hejda] went off the boards and I tried to turn my skate just to kick it back behind the net and I didn’t get there in time,” Scuderi said. “He [Landeskog] was right behind me to pounce on the shot to put it in.
“For 15 to 25 seconds, it’s a shooting gallery. But that’s my fault. I’ve got to have that presence of mind to take the man instead of trying to go for the puck.”
The game marked the return of Kings center Anze Kopitar, who had suffered a sprained knee on Jan. 5 while playing in Sweden during the lockout. Kopitar, who had no shots on goal in nearly 20 minutes of ice time, reported that the knee felt fine.
“I think the line had a really tough night,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “It was Kopi’s first game but the other two have had two tough games in a row now. . . . I thought the kids on the back end were really good tonight. [Goalie] Jonathan [Quick] was a lot better. We need our top forwards to be a lot better.”
On his knee: “The knee feels good. I didn’t have any problems with it. I pretty much forgot I was wearing [a brace] out there.”
On losing the lead in the third period: “There’s no secret to it. We didn’t play well in the third. We made some mistakes and turnovers that cost us. We played a solid first 40, but then for some reason after that wasn’t our team…and mistakes are going to cost you.”
(Game recap): “I thought we played a good first 40 minutes and the last 20 wasn’t our best. We just got to come prepared for a full 60″
(On his line): “Our line we just try to keep it simple. We play an easy game and whoever we play against whether first line or fourth line we just try to go out there and out-compete them.”
(on Kopitar’s line): “The line had a really tough night…Had tough time two games in a row”
(on fourth line): “We’re working backwards, I mentioned that the other day. Fraser’s line has been the best, then Stoll’s, then Richards, then Kopitar’s tonight. The kids on the back end were really good tonight and Jonathan [Quick] was a lot better. But we need our top forwards to be a lot better.”
Kings Postgame Video
For one period, the new Avs looked too much like the old Avs. A flat start at home, a smattering of boos when the first-period horn sounded, a road team walking back to the dressing room with some swag in their steps. But it was all totally different for the next 40 minutes.
In that span, the Avalanche bullied the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in every aspect of the sport and wound up winning its home opener 3-1 on Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 18,007 loud fans at the Pepsi Center.
Third-period goals by Gabriel Landeskog, David Jones and P.A. Parenteau overturned what had been a tenuous 1-0 Kings lead entering the period, and goalie Semyon Varlamov was outstanding all night for
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and defenseman Drew Doughty react to a goal by Colorado Avalanche right wing P.A. Parenteau during the third period on Tuesday at the Pepsi Center. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)
“That was the best crowd I’ve ever played in front of at the Pepsi Center,” said Landeskog, whose goal one minute into the third period tied the game. “We knew that if we kept pushing, we thought we could get another.”
The win did come at some cost in personnel, however. Left wing Steve Downie suffered a right knee injury and did not return, with no word on his short-term prognosis.
Colorado started out terribly, but Varlamov kept it in the game with some outstanding work in net.
The Avalanche had a 5-on-3 power play for 1:29 late in the second period, its perfect chance to get the game tied heading to the third. But the Avs couldn’t do it, losing a key faceoff midway through the advantage that got everything in disarray.
The Avs finally woke up in the third, though, and their top forwards supplied the energy. Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny set up goals. Duchene helped set up Landeskog’s first goal of the year, keeping a puck alive behind the net and backhanding it back out front where Landeskog put a quick snap shot to the far post.
“I thought we showed a lot of resiliency,” Avs coach Joe Sacco said. “The first period, I wouldn’t call it ideal, from our standpoint. But we gathered ourselves. … Once we got the (first) goal, you could see the guys start to feed off the momentum swing, and the energy was good on the bench. We were getting pucks deep and coming in waves after that.”
The Avs got a power play shortly thereafter, and Jones made it 2-1 with a wrist shot past Jonathan Quick from about 25 feet, after a pass from Stastny.
Newcomer Parenteau got his first goal as an Av with a bit more than 11 minutes left, on a goal that wouldn’t have been possible without the hustle of Landeskog.
The Avs’ captain stole a puck near the blue line and dumped it back down low, where defenseman Erik Johnson, pinching down deep, grabbed it and fed a pretty backhand pass out front. Parenteau was there
The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater and Mike Chambers post analysis, notes, video, chats and more on this blog focusing on the Colorado Avalanche.
in the right crease and put it past Quick to make it 3-1.
“We just kept coming, and we just needed that one goal, I think, to get really going,” Parenteau said. “It was an exciting third period, that’s for sure. We played a good game; maybe a little flat at the start, but we kept going. It felt great to get that first one here. (Johnson) made a great play getting the puck out front with that pass.”
The Avs nearly lost Duchene to injury when he took a slap shot to the face in the third. It cut him, but he returned to finish off a solid performance.
“I think I’d take a scar for every win we could get,” Duchene said. “If I could take a scar for every one, I’d end up looking like Gerry Cheevers in the end.”