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Power Play Heats Up Against Kings

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Los Angeles Kings came into Wednesday night’s game at Pepsi Center with the hottest penalty-killing unit in the National Hockey League.

They left Denver with their long penalty-kill streak snapped as the Avalanche netted a pair of power-play goals, withstood a late comeback and ended up with a 4-3 shootout victory.

Coming into tonight’s game – the second half of a home-and-home set following Monday’s game in California – the Kings had killed 29 consecutive penalties dating back to a March 4 game at Nashville.

An undisciplined first period and a potent Avalanche power play quickly changed that.

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After Colorado and Los Angeles traded goals from Matt Hendricks and Anze Kopitar, respectively, the Avs capitalized on a handful of errors by the Kings. After going 0-for-5 with the man-advantage during Monday’s contest, the Avs tallied during their first opportunity tonight.

With Brad Richardson serving a double minor for high-sticking Scott Hannan in the middle of the opening frame, Milan Hejduk one-timed a Peter Mueller feed from inside the left faceoff circle to give the Avalanche a 2-1 lead. Since the goal was scored in the first half of the double minor, the Avs remained on a man-advantage and continued to apply heavy pressure. Chris Stewart and Paul Stastny both had golden opportunities, but neither could cash in on rebounds. However, the pressure proved strong enough to draw another penalty – this time to Los Angeles defenseman Sean O’Donnell for cross-checking.

Though the Kings killed off the short ensuing 5-on-3, Colorado struck again with 1:52 remaining in the first period when Paul Stastny’s centering attempt went off the skate of Drew Doughty and ended up behind Kings netminder Jonathan Quick while Fredrik Modin was serving two minutes for delay of game. Following Colorado’s third goal, Los Angeles head coach Terry Murray opted to pull Quick in favor of Erik Ersberg.

“We had ten minutes of power plays, we had them heading in their own zone," said Stewart. "They got a couple of power plays in the second and third, but we came out with the two points and that’s the main focus.”

Colorado’s power-play unit had been recently dormant before waking up against the Kings After going 0-for-11 in the previous three contests, the Avs finished 2-for-6 on Wednesday evening.

Andy Still Chugging Along
Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson started his 64th game of the season tonight and earned his 36th victory. In his first season with Colorado, Anderson is one appearance shy of tying legendary Avalanche netminder Patrick Roy for the most games played by a goalie in a single season (65).

Anderson is now four wins behind Roy’s franchise record for victories in a campaign (40, set in 2000-01). Roy also holds the No. 2 spot on that list with 38 wins during the 1996-97 season.

Start Another Streak
The numbers don’t lie: Paul Stastny has been one of the NHL’s hottest players since the league returned from the Olympic break. After recording points in each of his first nine games following the Olympics, Stastny was finally held off the score sheet in Monday’s loss to the Kings.

The center got back into the scoring column with his first-period goal during tonight’s rematch and now has 19 points (6g/13a) in 12 March contests. Overall, Stastny is producing at a point-per-game pace this year with 73 points (18g/55a) in 73 games.
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