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Avalanche send Kings to second straight loss

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Los Angeles Kings are finding out that wearing the Stanley Cup crown can be a heavy burden.

The Kings fell for the second time in as many games as defending champions Tuesday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche, who won all four meetings between the teams last season, struck for three third-period goals to wipe out a 1-0 deficit for their first win of the young season.

"I don't worry," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It doesn't solve much, does it?"

Los Angeles lost a regular-season game when leading after two periods for the first time since April 2, 2009, at Phoenix. The Kings went 86-0-9 in 95 games when leading after 40 minutes during that stretch.

The Avalanche got goals from new captain Gabriel Landeskog and David Jones 95 seconds apart early in the third to grab a 2-1 lead.

Landeskog, last season's Calder Trophy winner, tied the game at the one-minute mark and Jones broke the stalemate with a power-play goal at 2:35.

Landeskog scored while standing to the left of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick after Matt Duchene passed to Jan Hejda for a shot from the left point. The puck caromed off the boards to Landeskog, who swept it by Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi and inside the near post.

"It's always good to get that first one and tie it up against the defending champions," Landeskog said. "We knew if we got the first one, we could've kept going."

Jones wired a shot past Quick off a pass from Paul Stastny after the Kings turned the puck over in their own end with Dustin Penner off for holding.

The Avalanche used the boards as an advantage again at 8:16 to hike the lead to 3-1. Ryan Wilson fired the puck from the left point off the boards and Erik Johnson slipped it to PA Parenteau in front for the two-goal advantage.

"It was a big goal for our team," said Parenteau, who signed as a free agent July 1 after collecting a career-high 67 points last season with the New York Islanders. "It's a great feeling to score your first goal in your first home game. I think as the game went on, we played a real strong game. It's always great when you play a good defensive team like that and get a two-goal lead in the third instead of a one-goal lead."

The Avalanche also got a solid performance from goalie Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 28 of 29 shots, with 21 of his saves coming in the first two periods.

"I think it's huge for us," Varlamov said of the win. "We know L.A. has such a good team offensively and defensively, and they have a great goalie. It was a big game for us."

The closest the Kings came to cutting the deficit in half came with 7 1/2 minutes remaining when Alec Martinez clanged a shot off the left post during a power play. The Avalanche killed all six of the Kings' man advantages.

"It was outstanding, the penalty killing tonight," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "We don't want to take six penalties in a game; we've got to cut down on the number of opportunities for the opposing team. The guys dug in and we had some huge kills at very important times of the game. Your best penalty killer is your goalie and Varly was outstanding, not just on the PK, but overall in general the whole game."

Quick, who faced 22 shots Saturday in the Kings' opening 5-2 home loss to Chicago, wasn't taking anything for granted with a 1-0 lead heading to the third period, even after his teammates killed off a two-man disadvantage in the second.

"You never think ahead of yourself. You take it one shift at a time," he said. "After you get out of a 5-on-3 with no goals and going into the third period with a one-goal lead, you take it shift by shift. They're a quick team with a lot of pace."

The Kings welcomed the return of star center Anze Kopitar, who missed the opener with a sprained knee sustained while playing in Europe during the lockout. He didn't register a shot on goal in 19:54 of ice time and was a minus-1.

"The line had a really tough night," Sutter said of Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Justin Williams. "It was Kopie's first game, but the other two have had two tough games in a row."

The Kings had a 1-0 lead thanks to a first-period goal by Kyle Clifford and some outstanding penalty killing late in the second. Clifford scored at 15:52 after Jordan Nolan fired a shot while skating down right wing. Varlamov made the stop, but the rebound went to Clifford driving into the slot for an easy goal.

The Kings failed to capitalize on power plays, but stayed in front by killing off a two-man disadvantage that lasted 1:29 in the second period with Penner (hooking) and Drew Doughty (high sticking) sitting side-by-side in the penalty box.

Avalanche left wing Steve Downie limped off the ice at 2:33 of the second period with a knee injury after a hit in the corner with Kings defenseman David Drewiske. Downie didn't return and will be re-evaluated Wednesday.

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