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ROYAL ROAD REPORT: KINGS FALL IN MILE HIGH CITY

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
DENVER – In a season filled with close games, the Kings allowed six goals for only the second time this season (Nov. 26 at Calgary) but only found the back of the net once in its third game against the Colorado Avalanche this season, the first of the series at the Pepsi Center. The Kings previously fell to the Avalanche in 4-3 decisions, coming up short on Oct. 20 and most recently in a shootout on Nov. 22. Tonight’s game also marked the 100th all-time matchup between the Kings and Avalanche. Los Angeles now holds a 48-43-9 record against Colorado.

Though Los Angeles outshot Colorado, 30-26, it allowed three goals in each of the first and second periods and was unable to climb back. Throughout the game, the puck didn’t seem to bounce in the Kings’ favor, with shots and deflections just missing the net as the deficit grew.

The loss lowered the Kings record to 11-12-4 overall and 3-6-0 in road games. The team will be back in action Thursday night when it kicks off a four-game homestand at STAPLES Center with a game against the St. Louis Blues at 7:30 p.m. The Kings are 2-0-0 against the Blues this season, outscoring St. Louis by a 9-3 margin.

FAST AND FURIOUS
Play broke open less than four minutes into the game, as two goals and a fight occurred in the span of 25 seconds. Colorado first scored when Ruslan Salei’s slap shot from the blue line took an unlucky bounce off the boards and hit netminder Jason LaBarbera who couldn’t locate the puck before Colorado put it in the back of the net. As the puck was dropped to start play after the goal, John Zeiler and Ian Laperriere exchanged blows (see below). With the crowd still buzzing, Paul Stastny sent a pretty feed from the right side of the L.A. net to Milan Hejduk, who was alone at the left circle and scored in the open net before LaBarbera could recover.

OLD GRUDGES SURFACE

In the last meeting between these two teams on Nov. 22, John Zeiler was assessed a major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct after hitting Avs defenseman Adam Foote from behind. The hit cost Zeiler three games, as he was suspended by the NHL shortly after for the hit. Colorado right wing Ian Laperriere yelled at Zeiler on his way to the penalty box after the hit and later told the media it was a “dirty hit.”

In tonight’s game, as the puck was being dropped after the first goal at 3:29, Zeiler and Laperriere dropped the gloves. Zeiler lost his helmet early into the fight, but held his own before the officials broke up the scrum. The Avalanche fans, most still on their feet from the first goal celebration, cheered loudly, seemingly aware of the history between the two.

Since the hit, Foote was placed on injured reserve (upper back/knee) and is out indefinitely.

“I knew as soon as I faced-off against [Laperriere], there was a stoppage of play, that he was going to want to go,” said Zeiler after the game. “It’s part of the game. Things happen. You take care of it at the moment there and after that just play your game … I respect him … You just get it over with and move on.”

ARMSTRONG INJURED

Derek Armstrong was injured in the first period on a hit from Cody McLeod. Armstrong fell to the ice while McLeod went on to score the game’s third goal from the front of the Kings net, sliding the puck past a sprawling LaBarbera. Armstrong went off the ice at 11:44 of the first with an upper-body injury and did not return.

QUOTES:
HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY:
“That first goal was just bouncing around like a ping pong off the back boards … The thing that really set us back, then of course, they come back down [25] seconds later and they make it 2-0.”

(On being resilient):
"We were pretty fragile that first period. But we did come back, we did continue to play and I liked the attitude in the third period where you have to try to get something out of the game … You do still have to dig down and play.”

(On sticking with LaBarbera in net):

“Sometimes people have to work through things. I think it’s important that we all understand that … When you really look at the first half of the game, we just didn’t have it, so let’s work through it and learn something out of it as a group.”

JASON LABARBERA:
“They got every bounce you can have. Three or four of those goals were pretty good bounces … The first goal, I can’t even tell you what happened on that one – hits the backboards, hits a teammate in the face, hits our skate.”

JOHN ZEILER
(On if he thought about fighting Laperriere before the game):
“Last night before sleep, pre-game nap, it was definitely on my mind. I knew it was going to have to get done.””

OSCAR MOLLER
(On his goal):
“We got some energy out of that. [Alexander] Frolov obviously made a real nice pass between the legs and when you’re in the slot like that, you’ve just got to shoot the puck.”

PATRICK O'SULLIVAN:
“It’s over and we’ve got to figure out why it happened and we can’t let it happen again … They got some good bounces, there’s no doubt about that. But at the end of the day, I think it should have been closer if we had played better.”

NOTES:

Brad Richardson, who was drafted by Colorado and played 145 games for the Avs from 2005-08 before being traded to L.A. this June, did not travel with the team due to a cut on his foot … With less than a minute left in the first, Ryan Smyth took at shot from the left circle that broke his stick in two and sent the entire blade sailing into the crowd. The blade spun around like a helicopter and landed five rows up on the other side of the arena – coincidentally to couple with different tastes, one wearing a Kings jersey, the other sporting Avs apparel … Right wing Chris Stewart notched his first NHL point with an assist on Colorado’s fifth goal, before scoring his first NHL goal less than seven minutes later on a shorthanded breakaway … Oscar Moller scored the lone Kings goal, his sixth of the season, on a power play at 12:02 of the second period … With an assist on Colorado’s fourth goal, John-Michael Liles tied Jeff Brown for the fifth most points by a Colorado defenseman in franchise history … Avs right wing Marek Svatos left the game in the first period with a back injury and did not return.

Written by Carly Peters

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