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Avalanche 5, Kings 0 @NHLdotcom

LOS ANGELES (AP) - When Colorado needed him most, there was Joe Sakic, scoring, passing and playing with a zeal that gave his teammates a boost.

Sakic had two goals and two assists and the Avalanche defeated Los Angeles 5-0 Monday night to avoid a first-ever season sweep by the Kings.

"That's Joe Sakic. He's been carrying this team for years," former King Ian Laperriere said. "When it's crucial time, that's where your captain shows up. He's been like that for weeks right now. He knows the games are so important."

So do the Kings, but they lost for the fifth time in seven games to a team they had beaten in three previous meetings.

"It looked like they wanted it way more than we did," Kings captain Mattias Norstrom said. "I'm embarrassed. This shouldn't happen this time of the year."

The Kings are tied with Edmonton for seventh in the Western Conference playoff race, but the Oilers have two more games remaining than Los Angeles.

"We can't sit here and say this team is in huge trouble," Norstrom said. "We're in a playoff spot right now, and it's up to us to keep it."

The Kings' continued freefall has spurred rumors about coach Andy Murray's job status.

"I'll be fired up tomorrow because if I expect my team to be energized and ready to go to work, I'd better make sure I'm energized myself," he said. "I've got some friends who are in the car business here, and I'm not ready to get back into that business yet, so I want to keep coaching."

The victory ended a two-game losing skid and lifted the Avs into sole possession of fifth.

"We need every point we can get right now," Laperriere said. "We knew we needed a huge start. We just kept coming at them. That's one thing we weren't doing at the very beginning. We would take a good start and just maybe sit back, but tonight we went for 60 minutes."

Sakic's season-high four points moved him past two NHL Hall of Famers on the career list for goals and assists.

He scored less than 5 minutes apart in the first period, giving Colorado a 2-0 lead. His first one came on his own rebound off the right post for his 1,468th point, moving Sakic past Stan Mikita into sole possession of 11th place.

Sakic then worked the puck out from behind the net and sent a screened shot through Garon's legs for his second goal and 26th of the season.

"We've had some bad starts lately and we wanted to make sure the start of this game was a lot better," Sakic said. "We played a solid first period and that gave us momentum. We've been playing a lot of catch-up lately and we didn't want to do that again."

Rookie goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 21 shots for his second shutout in just over a week. He had allowed four goals in the first 21:44 of Sunday's 6-5 loss at San Jose.

"In two periods, we didn't give up almost anything," he said. "In the third period, they got a couple chances out of power plays. It makes it easier when the team in front of you plays as well as the guys did tonight."

Colorado extended its lead to 3-0 early in the second. Laperriere scored his career-high 19th goal, one-timing a pass from Sakic. With the setup, Sakic overtook Bryan Trottier for 15th with 902.

"It's kind of nice, but I don't think I'm passing anybody else for a while," he said. "I appreciate every moment that it happens."

The Avs made it 4-0 less than 3 1/2 minutes later, when Andrew Brunette's slap shot deflected off the stick of a Kings defender and past Garon, who was promptly yanked for Jason LaBarbera.

Garon gave up the first four goals on 13 shots. The Kings didn't play any defense in front of LaBarbera, either. He allowed a third-period goal to Antti Laaksonen.

Colorado's Milan Hejduk had an assist, giving him five points over the last four games.

Notes: The Kings and Avs honored Adam Deadmarsh before the game, with each of his old teams giving him a painting and a fishing rod. He was forced into early retirement in September because of repeated concussions. Deadmarsh played parts of three seasons with the Kings, scoring 46 goals, after being acquired from Colorado in the Rob Blake trade. "For anyone I cheap-shotted in the past, you're too late to get me back," he told fans who gave him a standing ovation. Earlier, Deadmarsh said his daily life is no longer affected by the concussions, but he dearly misses playing hockey. "It's a page that's maybe never going to be closed for me by having to quit when I did," he said. "I'd love to stay involved in the game somehow. Hockey is all I know." He lives in Idaho, while awaiting his next job. ... C Pavol Demitra missed his third straight game because of a concussion, leaving the Kings without their most successful player against the Avalanche. Demitra had seven of the Kings' 14 goals against them in the first three games. ... The Avs improved to 4-7 in the second half of back-to-back games.

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