LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings blew a two-goal lead and head into the NHL All-Star Break with a 4-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
HOW IT HAPPENED
This is not how the Los Angeles Kings wanted to head into All-Star weekend. With five days to think about this loss, the Kings lead in the Pacific Division is down to just seven points.
Gabriel Landeskog scored twice and Nathan MacKinnon recorded the game-winning goal as the Avalanche railed from two different deficits to beat Los Angeles for the second time this month.
"This was an emotional game for me," Landeskog said. "There have been some tough times getting on the score sheet lately for me personally and it feels good to contribute."
The game started with the Kings third short-handed goal of the season when Drew Doughty delivered a beautiful backhand shot that slipped past Calvin Pickard for the score. It was the first short-handed goal of the All-Star defenseman's career.
Los Angeles doubled down with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. Veteran center Vincent LeCavalier went with a vintage between the legs pass to himself before finding Trevor Lewis in front of the net for the one-timer goal.
Trailing 2-0, after one period, Colorado came back in the second and scored just 42 seconds after intermission to cut the lead in half. Matt Duchene beat Quick with a slapshot from the right circle for his 23rd goal of the season.
"This is the hardest building to play in in hockey," Duchene said. "Every time we come here they shellshock us in the first, and a lot of times we aren't able to come back. Tonight, we buckled down and took control of the game."
Minutes later, the Avalanche would tie the game on a Landeskog's first goal of the game. Blake Comeau shot from the left side of the net and the rebound went right to Landeskog who buried it into the bottom right corner of the net.
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The Kings recaptured the lead with 4:47 to play in the second period. Jordan Nolan snatched the puck from behind the Avalanche net and found Dwight King in front for the go-ahead goal.
"It was Jordan Nolan who made the play," Kings said crediting his teammate for the assist. "I just went to the net and he found me."
But the lead would be short lived. Landeskog lit the lamp to open the third period on a 4-on-3 power play and the Avalanche tied the game at 3-to-3 with plenty of hockey still left to play.
After a Tyler Toffoli holding penalty put the Avalanche back on the power play, Colorado completed the improbable comeback when they took the lead on Nathan MacKinnon's 18th goal of the season. Mikhail Grigorenko found MacKinnon in front of the net for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.
"We didn't play a full sixty minutes," said Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. "If you want to win in this league you have to play a full sixty. We had a good start, but we didn't maintain it."
The game ended in dramatic fashion with Colorado committing a penalty with just 30 seconds remaining in the game. The Kings pulled Quick, and had a two-man advantage for the final half-minute, but were unable to get the equalizer.
The Kings outshot Colorado 38-19, and lost for just the fourth time this season when leading after two periods. Meanwhile, they Avalanche have won five of their last six games and head to the All-Star break with a much-needed win.
"It was a good effort," said LA Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. "They scored one more goal. We outshot them 40-20 and should have won the game."
MVP OF THE GAME
The Los Angeles Kings penalties. LA was called for seven penalties, including four in the third period that allowed the Avalanche to get back in the game.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Drew Doughty's first period goal was the first short-handed goal of his career.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
Bailey, the LA Kings mascot was roughed up on the ice in-between periods.
PHOTO OF THE NIGHT
Quick is a magician.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I think there's a real goal here in mind. It's kind of the way the culture is around here… It's definitely a different feel coming from another organization." – New Kings defenseman Luke Schenn on the culture in Los Angeles.
Drew Doughty's first period goal was the first short-handed score of his career. He became the first Kings defenseman to score a short-handed goal since Willie Mitchell did it on Oct. 28, 2010 against Dallas…The Kings lost to the Avalanche 4-1 on January 4th in Denver…Nate Guenin, Semyon Varlamov, Chris Wagner and Andrew Bodnarchuk were all scratched for Colorado…Andy Andreoff and Jamie McBain were scratched for the Kings.
Colorado Avalanche (27-22-3, 57 points) 6th in the Central Division.
Los Angeles Kings (30-16-3, 63 points) 1st in the Pacific Division.
Both teams are off until after the NHL All-Star Break which takes place in Nashville, TN this weekend.