Jeff Carter scored two goals and Peter Budaj earned his sixth shutout of the season as the Los Angeles Kings shutout the Colorado Avalanche, 5-0, for their fourth straight victory on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The Kings got the puck rolling early and often as they scored just 47 seconds into their first home game since Staples Center hosted the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday. Overall, the Kings scored three straight first period goals, capped off by Marian Gaborik's sixth goal of the season.
Gaborik got his goal after a shot by captain Anze Kopitar, whose slow-starting season is heating up. The Slovenian center has 15 points in his last 13 games after managing just 16 points in his first 32 games this season.
Carter continued his push for MVP as the Kings' forward tallied his team-high 25th and 26th goals this season.
The forward is responsible for a higher percentage of his team's goals than any NHL player this season, but his low-scoring teammates gave him plenty of support this time.
Jeff Carter is now a quarter of the way to scoring 100 goals this year. Frankly, we're surprised he's that far away from the century mark. pic.twitter.com/rXMI6IPvxf — #LAKings (@LAKings) February 2, 2017
Dustin Brown and Dwight King added third-period goals in the Kings' first win against the Avalanche this season, and first in their last four games, dating back to last season.
Brown scored on a deflection of a shot by defenseman Kevin Gravel, who got his first point in 19 games since Dec. 10. King then ended his 26-game goal drought since Dec. 1 from well behind Colorado's net, getting a wacky deflection off Eric Gelinas' skate.
"The team we're playing and the situation they're in, you have to jump on them early," said Brown of the Kings fast start. "You can't let them hang around. We did that in the first and carried it through."
Budaj made 22 saves, as the longtime Avalanche goalie picked up his 17th career shutout for Los Angeles, which has ramped up its playoff push with back-to-back victories after hosting the All-Star Game.
"I'm very thankful to be here," said Budaj of his sixth shutout with the Kings. "The team is playing great in front of me. We have a great group of guys who work tremendously hard to keep going and try to give us a chance every night. The team is doing great in front of me."
Spencer Martin stopped 35 shots in the 21-year-old prospect's third NHL appearance for the league-worst Avalanche, who have lost nine straight and 19 of 21.
"It's pretty disappointing letting in three early goals like that," said Martin. "I try to take something from every game and from this game I felt like overall, I was able to put it behind me and play better in the second period."
The break did little for Colorado, which struggled through back-to-back blowout losses in Southern California by a combined 10-1.
Avalanche forward Rene Bourque left in the opening minutes after receiving a heavy hit near the benches from Los Angeles defenseman Brayden McNabb, who wasn't penalized for the hit. John Mitchell got an instigator penalty for starting an ensuing fight with McNabb.
Kings forward Jordan Nolan then went to the dressing room in the second period with a lower-body injury.
NOTES: Longtime Kings announcer Bob Miller returned home Wednesday after being hospitalized following a mild stroke during All-Star weekend. The Staples Center crowd chanted "Get well, Bob!" during the second period. ... Kopitar took a minor penalty, giving him 18 penalty minutes this season. That's more than he accumulated in all of last season, when he won the Lady Byng Trophy. .... Kings All-Star D Drew Doughty had an assist in his sixth straight game, extending the longest streak of his nine-year NHL career. ... Budaj was drafted by the Avalanche in 2001 and spent a decade in the organization, including six seasons with the big-league club. He has won 20 games this season for the first time since the 2008-09 season in Denver.
Avalanche: Host Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
Kings: At Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.