-- It's not only the Western Conference playoff race that's tightening up.
The games are, too.
Ruslan Salei took a cross-checking penalty and the Avalanche gave up their second power-play goal of the night when Drew Doughty
's slap shot whizzed by Craig Anderson's glove hand at 3:40 of overtime, giving the Kings a 4-3 victory at the Staples Center on Monday night. It was the seventh power-play goal allowed by the Avalanche in their last 17 attempted kills.
With the victory, the Kings move into a tie with Nashville for fifth place in the Western Conference with 89 points. The Avalanche remain in seventh place with 87 points, two ahead of Detroit.
"If I actually told you what the play was (as) drawn up on the board, you'd have been upset at him (for) shooting the puck," Kings coach Terry Murray joked. "That was not the designed play that we talked about but it was a great read on his part because their forward took away Stoll. They were looking at him to get the puck back (from Doughty) for the one-timer. They cheated on it, they stayed in front of (Stoll), and that was a good read by Doughty."
This season, the Kings have won 28 consecutive games when leading after two periods (28-0-0).
T.J. Galiardi scored with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime, pouncing on a rebound of a Paul Stastny
shot to give the Avs a much-needed point.
"(The extra point) has huge implications, but we've got to get both against this team," Galiardi said.
Despite a fast pace, neither team could generate many shots. Midway through the second period, each club had only eight apiece, while regulation time ended with the clubs knotted at 21 shots.
"It's gut check time right now, everyone wants those two points," Doughty said. "It was really hard defensively played game. Lot of hitting and good positioning, and that's what's going to happen in these kinds of games."
"Just a safe, dirty hockey game," said Colorado defenseman Adam Foote. "You're going to see greasy goals go in and crashing the net. Both teams played real hard."
Ryan Smyth did his part for the Kings, as the power forward scored a pair of goals. Wayne Simmonds broke out of a scoring drought and Anze Kopitar
added two assists.
Simmonds, appearing on a line with Kopitar and Brad Richardson
, scored just his second goal in the last 14 games. The tally, his 16th of the season, snapped Simmonds out of a slump during which he managed only one goal and three assists since Feb. 6.
Early in the third, the Avalanche struck when Peter Mueller
took a pass from Milan Hejduk
and broke into the Kings' zone. He skated right toward the faceoff circle and sent a quick wrist shot between Jonathan Quick
's glove and post at 4:54 to knot the game at 2-2.
With the Kings applying the pressure in the Colorado zone, Justin Williams
scooped up a puck on the half-wall and sent a pass along the boards to Smyth, stationed behind the net. Smyth circled Anderson's post and jammed the puck along the ice that skidded under Anderson to put the Kings ahead 3-2 at 9:55. Smyth's second of the night was his 22nd of the season.
"Those are the plays that we need Ryan Smyth to make, his resume is built around that kind of play, around the net," Murray said. "That's a big part of the reason that we wanted to make the deal for him in the offseason."
Simmonds gave the Kings a 2-1 lead at 15:41 after he won a puck battle behind the Colorado net, spinning away from Salei, then circling the post to Anderson's left, where his backhand shot beat Anderson through the legs. Cold of late, Simmonds' 16th goal was only his second in the last 14 games.
Both Smyth's and Simmonds' goals were successful wraparound attempts from behind the net.
"Any time you get a taller goaltender, you want to get it at his feet," Smyth said of Anderson. "He's been playing very well this year and we just wanted to throw it at his feet, and luckily it went in a couple of times."
Chris Stewart opened the scoring with his 28th goal off the stick of Kings forward Fredrik Modin. Backchecking in his own zone, Modin tried to break up a pass from Stewart, at the half-wall, to Adam Foote. Modin's stick redirected the puck over Quick's left pad to make it 1-0 at 7:14 of the first period.
With Kyle Cumiskey
off for interference, the Kings evened the score at 9:51 on the power play. Kopitar and Doughty tossed it back and forth high in the Colorado zone, then Kopitar sent a cross-zone pass to Stoll, who sent the puck back across the slot to Smyth for the tap-in.
The Kings have won both games of the season series. The teams meet Wednesday in Denver, and also close the regular season in their fourth matchup on April 11.