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Kings roll over Avalanche 4-1

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Bring on the Anaheim Ducks?

That wasn't quite the chant in the Los Angeles Kings' locker room, although the defending Stanley Cup champions seem to have their game together just in time for their Southern California rivals. The Kings are taking a page from last season with strong play from the reunited top line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams leading the way in a 4-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Brown, Kopitar and Williams combined for two goals and two assists and Jeff Carter added a goal as Los Angeles, which started 3-5-2, is now 8-6-2 and stretched its winning streak to a season-high three games.

"We know what we're getting [with our line]," Kopitar said. "You know what you're getting from Brownie. You know what you're getting from Willie. We've gotten used to it. We've played a good chunk, or pretty much the whole last year together. The chemistry's there. It's just being [able to be] sharp at all times.

"I thought we had pretty good offensive zone time and we were creating chances. We hit a couple of posts, too. Now we just got to stay consistent and play like that."

The Kings have won five of their past six games going into Monday's showdown against Pacific Division-leading Anaheim, which is 12-2-1.

Colorado lost despite the return of captain Gabriel Landeskog from a head injury, mostly because it couldn't stop the Kings from getting loose in its own end. Milan Hejduk's power-play goal 1:16 into the second period was the only shot to elude Jonathan Quick, who made 25 saves.

Not really the ideal return for the Avalanche captain.

"Health-wise, I was feeling good," Landeskog said. "My head feels good. Conditioning is going to come [back] even more. Hands and timing and that kind of stuff – are going to come as well. But right now I don't have time to feel my way into things. We're right in the heat of things. We got to get those two points and unfortunately we didn't tonight."

Kopitar remained on the ice during a line change and made it 4-1 at 16:42 of the second period with a wrist shot off a slick pass from Dustin Penner. Penner protected the puck from the back wall to around the corner and dished it between two defenders for only his second point this season.

Coach Darryl Sutter reunited the top line Feb.19 and the trio seems to have rediscovered why it was so effective during the run to the Cup last spring. It helped L.A. take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on long shots that exposed both Colorado's shoddy zone coverage and Semyon Varlamov's blocker side.

The start set the tone for a Kings team that ended a five-game losing streak (0-4-1) to Colorado -- the only Western Conference team to sweep L.A. last season.

"The last time we played Colorado [on Jan.22] we lost 3-1 and our first two lines, as you call them, were significantly outplayed by the [Paul] Stastny line and the [Matt Duchene]," Sutter said. "Tonight we were able to counter that with those performances by those top two lines."

Brown blasted a cross-ice feed from Williams into the net only 58 seconds into the game. Carter wristed home a tape-to-tape backhand pass from a curling Mike Richards at 14:22 for his team-leading ninth of the season.

Carter has goals in three consecutive games. He had six goals in 16 regular-season games as a King in 2011-12, but has nine through 16 games this season.

"He's been our best player since the first day of training camp," Sutter said.

Trevor Lewis added a shorthanded goal 2:51 into the second period on a soft shot five-hole on Varlamov – the first shorthander by L.A. and the first allowed by Colorado this season. Jarret Stoll started the play with a blocked shot in the slot.

"That was a tough one," Landeskog said. "It kind of deflated us a little bit and took some wind out of our sails there."

Colorado has scored one goal in each of its past two games. Colorado didn't manage much on its other power plays, getting one and zero shots on two occasions. Coach Joe Sacco cited inconsistency and pointed to its leaders to get them out of the doldrums. The Avalanche play at Anaheim on Sunday.

"We have to compete harder than that," Sacco said. "I don't think our top players were at their best tonight. They know that. We got some good energy from our other lines."

Former fan favorite Ian Laperriere was honored in a pre-game tribute. The Kings also observed a moment of silence for former owner Jerry Buss.

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