It didn't take long for the Los Angeles Kings to take advantage of a failed clearing attempt by the Greg Zanon. To compound the mistake on the turnover, four (yes FOUR) Avalanche players were on the Kings' right wing side of the ice leaving Dustin Brown all alone to be "defended" by Stefan Elliott. Brown was able to fire the very first shot of the game past Varlamov, who had absolutely no chance on the shot. So just 58 seconds into the game it was 1-0 in favor of the Kings. Hopefully this wasn't indicative of how the rest of this game was going to go.
At the 7:40 mark of the first period the Avs would get their first power play chance of the game. The Avs would obviously be looking to gain some momentum in the game. Unfortunately the Avs weren't able to get any scoring chances, or momentum back.
With the Kings continuing to control the play, they forced another Avalanche turnover at the blue line. This is something that just cannot happen at the NHL level. For the second time in the first period, it cost Colorado. At 14:22 Jeff Carter fired a an absolute laser of a wrist shot over the blocker of Varlamov. It appeared that he fired the puck thru Duchene's legs, regardless, it's definitely a shot that Varly has the ability to stop. 2-0 Kings.
It seemed like the Carter goal woke up the Avs, at least for the last 5 minutes of the first period. During that time the Avs were able to get a majority of the scoring chances during that time, including a chance by Paul Stastny who was left all alone in front of the net. Jonathan Quick was able to layout into the full splits and make an unbelievable save to keep the Kings up 2-0 heading into the 1st intermission.
The Avs came out of the gate to start the second period flying! Less than a minute into the period, the Avs were able to draw a slashing call as Jake Muzzin broke Matt Hunwick's stick. On the ensuing power play the Avs would capitalize. Off a pretty passing play between Gabe Landeskog and P.A. Parenteau, "Pappy" was able to thread the needle to Milan Hejduk who fired a perfect shot past Quick to close the deficit to 2-1.
With all of the momentum the Avs gained off of Hejduk's power play goal, it was taken away when the Kings scored a shorthanded goal. Trevor Lewis was able to walk into the Avs' zone, following a heroic blocked shot by Jarrett Stoll, and slide the puck between the pads of Varly. It was an absolutely dreadful goal to give up, not just because of how easily it could've been stopped, but because of the timing and how soon after the Avs had closed the deficit to just 1 goal. 3-1 Los Angeles.
As the second period went on, defensive zone coverage continued to be the team's achilles heel. With the Kings setting up in the offensive zone, the Avs were caught chasing the puck carrier and Antze Kopitar was allowed to walk right into the middle of the slot and get an absolutely perfect shot off, hit the post and past Varlamov. Colorado cannot continue to allow the opposition's best to get shots from the high scoring areas, otherwise, this is what is going to happen. 4-1 Kings.
Heading into the third period, if the Avs want any chance of coming back, they were going to have to shore up play in their own defensive zone, make sure any puck that gets to within 3 feet of the blue line is cleared out, and stay out of the penalty box.
Just over 5 minutes into the third, Ryan O'Byrne was sent to the box for cross checking Dustin Brown in front of the net. It would put the Kings 23rd ranked power play back on the job for just the second time in this game. Fortunately the Avs 21st ranked penalty kill was able to withstand an all out assault by the Kings and stay within 3 of the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Following the penalty kill the Kings slipped into their "prevent" defense in an effort to contain the Avs and limit their scoring chances. It worked as the Avs had no real scoring chances during the final frame of today's game in Los Angeles.
The one bright spot in today's otherwise dismal game, Gabe Landeskog did get an assist on the Avs lone goal and didn't appear to be experiencing any ill effects from his head injury.
The Avs don't have much time to sulk following today's effort as they are right back at it tomorrow night down the road in Orange County.
Derek's Three Stars of the Game:
3rd Star: Jonathan Quick (.958 Sv %)
2nd Star: Antze Kopitar (1G, 1A)
1st Star: Jeff Carter (GWG)