DENVER – The Kings topped the Colorado Avalanche, 6-5, tonight to end their three-game road trip before the NHL All-Star Break on a winning note. After compiling a four-goal lead, the Kings held off a rally by the Avs late in the game for the win. Los Angeles collected five of a possible six points on the trek, posting a 2-0-1 record. In the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season, the Kings stopped Colorado’s four-game win streak in the head-to-head match-up.
Los Angeles heads into the NHL All-Star break with a 19-20-7 record, compiling a 7-9-1 record in away games. Captain Dustin Brown will be the lone King in the NHL All-Star game this Sunday, but will be joined in Montreal by defenseman Drew Doughty, who will play in the NHL YoungStars Game presented by Upper Deck on Saturday.
The Kings return to action following the NHL All-Star Break on Thursday, Jan. 29, when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at STAPLES Center at 7:30 p.m., before departing on a five-game road trip. Los Angeles won the only previous meeting between the two teams this season, 5-2.
KINGS CARAVAN TO COLORADO
In the spirit of this Presidential week, more than 130 Kings fans were at the Pepsi Center tonight as part of the Kings’ Fly with the President promotion. Partnering with AM 570, President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille flew to the game with the fans that purchased the package including airfare, hotel and tickets to tonight’s game.
Prior to departure from L.A., Robitaille held a mock press conference in the terminal for fans to ask questions as the time aboard quickly became a hockey fan’s paradise. As Robitaille walked the aisles signing autographs and taking pictures, fans played trivia and sang karaoke.
The fans seated in the lower end of the Pepsi Center for the game had plenty of reasons to cheer and took full advantage of them. With the majority decked out in L.A. apparel, the fans boisterously cheered and made sure their presence was noted before they head home tomorrow.
Two Kings fans had this to say during the first intermission:
"I wanted to come because the Avs have a long-standing franchise and it’s exciting to be in their building. This is my first time at a pro game outside of southern California and it's amazing to cheer with this group of Kings fans. If they do this again next year I am absolutely on board."
-Mike Smuck , Huntington Beach
"The Kings did a great job putting the package together and having it run smoothly. As a relatively new Kings fan, it's cool to be with other fans from California. It is really exciting!"
-Ron Lyse, Lakewood
HOT AND COLD
After a relatively mellow first period, the Kings exploded for five goals in the second period, gaining a 6-2 advantage, and forcing Colorado to replace goalie Peter Budaj with Andrew Raycroft in the process. The Avalanche fought back, including a goal with eight seconds left in the middle frame and tallies less than two minutes apart in the third period. After calling a timeout, Los Angeles was able to weather the storm for the game’s final 12 minutes to earn the victory.
Jack Johnson scored his first goal of the season on a blistering slapshot from beyond the right circle. In just his third game back from a shoulder injury, his fifth game of the season, Johnson made multiple strong defensive plays. Johnson recorded 16:40 of total ice time, two shots on goal and was a plus-1.
"I was just letting it rip," Johnson said. "It was a great look by O’Sullivan who had to get it by the [Colorado defense] and I was just trying to get it on net.
"It was nice to get it, but it was more nice to help this team win, and that’s part of the reason why I came back a little earlier than expected. It’s nice to help get another win on the road."
For the 13th time in the last 15 games, Jonathan Quick got the start in the L.A. net. With Erik Ersberg out with a lower-body injury, Quick faced Colorado for the first time in his career. When Los Angeles got into penalty trouble early in the game, Quick responded with some fantastic saves to keep the lead. After a bevy of Colorado chances allowed the Avs to come within one goal, Quick held his composure and fought off the attack for the final 12 minutes of the game. Quick is now 6-5-0 on the season.
POST GAME QUOTES
HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY:
Thoughts on the last 12 minutes of third:
"The one thing we talked about in our timeout was just calm down, relax. We’ve got to finish this off, shut the door and do the right stuff with making plays … It’s hard with a young team like this when things get heated up and the momentum has swung away from you … but it’s a good learning situation for us."
On Jonathan Quick:
"It’s a great game for a rookie goaltender. For him to be able to deal with what’s going on – the emotion in the game, with the fans, the opposing team really jamming the net and whacking away at him – He’ll grow from this one."
On finishing off the road trip:
"We wanted to build off the two games we just played, try to continue with the momentum … The intentions were right. We were thinking the right way trying to do the right stuff."
Thoughts at the All-Star Break:
"I like what we’ve done in the first half of the year. We’ve played extremely well in some games. Our record, I feel, should be better than what it is, but it’s a process. The break’s coming at a good time with a young hockey club. I think it’s nice for the players to be able to back away from the daily routine, get refreshed, re-energized and just come back and give it a big push."
DEFENSEMAN JACK JOHNSON:
Handling the third period pressure:
"They were really coming hard and we had a tough time stopping their momentum and we tried to slow the game down … They had us on our heels, but it’s kind of a bend, but don’t break, mentality,"
GOALTENDER JONATHAN QUICK:
"Obviously, you don’t want to have to win that way, when you’re up 6-2, but to be able to give up three goals when we still have 12 minutes to play, for the team to stay strong like that, says a lot about how resilient they are and how much they wanted to win."
Anze Kopitar tallied two assists and registered three shots on net in his 200th NHL game … After scoring L.A.’s sixth goal, Dustin Brown heads to the NHL All-Star Game riding a three-game goal streak … Avalanche Head Coach Tony Granato played six-and-a-half seasons with the Kings … After spending the past two seasons with the Kings, Brian Willsie took advantage of a bad clearing attempt by Quick and quickly deposited the puck in the back of the L.A. net for his first goal of the season, pulling the Avs within two goals, 6-4 … Both Brad Richardson (foot), who was a Colorado draft choice and spent parts of three seasons with the Avs, and Ian Laperriere (back), who played more than eight seasons with L.A., did not play … The Kings won two straight games for the first time since December 11-13 .. The Kings left the arena to the cheers of the fans from L.A. who were stationed next to the team bus.
Written By Carly Peters | Special to LAKings.com