DENVER (AP) - Craig Conroy was surprised to find himself with the puck on his stick, in position to score the easy goal that gave the Los Angeles Kings a come-from-behind victory.
Apparently, he hadn't seen much of the Colorado Avalanche lately.
Conroy's flip past David Aebischer with 58 seconds left Wednesday night gave the Kings a 5-4 win, and marked the second time in a week that Aebischer and the Avalanche blew a three-goal lead at home.
``You should win those games,'' Aebischer said. ``Right now we are a little short. We've lost games weirdly.''
Down 4-1 midway through the second period, the Kings kept plugging away, knowing that under the NHL's new, high-scoring rules, no deficit is too big to overcome.
Still, it was hard to credit this one merely to a bunch of new rules. Instead, Aebischer and Colorado's inattentive defense played a big role.
Never were they worse than at the end.
Conroy's game-winner - his first goal of the season - came after Aebischer went behind the net and stopped the puck for defenseman Rob Blake.
Blake arrived late, mishandled the puck and instead of clearing it and getting ready for overtime, Kings forward Alexander Frolov got there and rifled a pass in front of the net to Conroy, who put it by Aebischer from point-blank range.
Conroy said at first he didn't even plan on going to the goal because he didn't think there would be a scoring chance.
``I noticed, all of a sudden, Frolov was in there first,'' Conroy said. ``He saw me open in the slot and made a nice pass. I think Aebischer would probably like to have that one back.''
Less than a minute later, after the Avs pulled Aebischer and couldn't convert on their desperate 6-on-5 opportunities, the Kings mobbed goalie Mathieu Garon (17 saves) to celebrate their fifth win in six games. And the 443rd consecutive sellout at Pepsi Center let loose with boos.
The Avalanche finished 1-2-1 on their homestand, including a 5-4 loss to Nashville last Thursday after leading 3-0 early.
In that loss, Aebischer was guilty of a critical penalty that led to the winning power-play goal for the Predators. On this night, he was simply guilty of bad goaltending and victimized by his team's sloppy play.
The Kings tied it with 24 seconds left in the second. The goal came after the Avalanche turned it over in their own zone - a common sight during this homestand - and Eric Belanger collected the puck in the corner, lasered a pass across the crease to Sean Avery, who squeezed the puck between Aebischer's skate and the pipe.
``Goals four and five were unacceptable,'' Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. ``You don't give up goals in the last minute of the period. And our play at the end of the game we were sloppy. Really sloppy.''
The loss ruined a two-goal night for Ian Laperriere, a free-agent acquisition for Colorado this season after spending the last decade with the Kings. He scored twice and Andrew Brunette had a goal to give the Avs a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead after the first period.
Joe Sakic scored his third goal of the season at the 6:35 mark of the second to push the lead to three. But then the Kings began their comeback.
``We have a team with a strong work ethic,'' Kings coach Andy Murray said. ``We weren't going to sit back no matter what the score was. We had to force the issue.''
This marked the first regular-season game on the ice for Avalanche defenseman Brad May, who took a vicious shot on Mattias Norstrom in the second period, charging him into the boards.
May is the former Vancouver player who infamously called for a bounty to be put on the head of Avs forward Steve Moore before a game in 2003. Todd Bertuzzi broke Moore's neck. May's offseason signing with the Avalanche was not greeted warmly by fans. They booed him every time he touched the puck early, but cheered him after the hit, which only drew a two-minute, unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
``The hit on Norstrom was terrible,'' Belanger said. ``That was a hit from behind and May should be suspended for that. They really (messed) that up.''
Notes: The Avalanche played without Fs Dan Hinote (back spasms) and Milan Hejduk (knee). Hejduk has missed all seven games, but is expected to return soon. ... With his goal, Avery extended his scoring streak to four games.
|Ian Laperriere (1) ASST: Alex Tanguay (5), Karlis Skrastins (2)|
1 - 0 COL
|SHG - Pavol Demitra (3) ASST: Craig Conroy (2), Tim Gleason (5)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Andrew Brunette (1) ASST: Rob Blake (4), Alex Tanguay (6)|
2 - 1 COL
|Ian Laperriere (2) ASST: Alex Tanguay (7), Patrice Brisebois (1)|
3 - 1 COL
|PPG - Joe Sakic (3) ASST: Marek Svatos (2), Wojtek Wolski (3)|
4 - 1 COL
|Pavol Demitra (4) ASST: Dustin Brown (2), Craig Conroy (3)|
4 - 2 COL
|Lubomir Visnovsky (1) ASST: Craig Conroy (4)|
4 - 3 COL
|Sean Avery (3) ASST: Eric Belanger (2), Tom Kostopoulos (2)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Craig Conroy (1) ASST: Alex Frolov (2), Mike Weaver (1)|
5 - 4 LAK
|Robert Boughner Fighting (maj) against George Parros|
|George Parros Fighting (maj) against Robert Boughner|
|Brett McLean Hooking against Mike Cammalleri|
|Jeremy Roenick Hooking|
|Sean Avery Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Tom Kostopoulos Charging against Brad May|
|Brad May Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Patrice Brisebois Interference against Sean Avery|
|Pierre Turgeon Tripping against Mike Cammalleri|
|Rob Blake Holding against Sean Avery|
|Sean Avery Diving|