The Colorado Avalanche continued their road trip out west on Wednesday evening, getting in game two of the three Southwest matchups with a visit to the Los Angeles Kings.
The Avalanche were looking to take advantage of a team down on their luck this season — and they did just that, to the tune of a 7-3 victory.
A late start — pushed even later due to Dion Phaneuf’s 1000th game ceremony — kicked off this sleepy affair, and dared it to end on Thanksgiving Day.
The Avalanche got on the board first, though, kicking things off just over halfway through the first period with a power play goal from their quietly formidable second unit. Vladislav Kamenev swept in a rebound off of a slick Carl Soderbeg pass, and the Avalanche grabbed the first lead of the game at 11:25.
The lead wouldn’t last long, as goaltender Semyon Varlamov gave the Kings an early holiday gift just four minutes later. An easy goal, scored when he failed to cover the puck, tied things up at 15:26 of the first — but the Avalanche would grab the lead back just 50 seconds later, when the first power play unit remembered how to pass from down low and created a quick strike tic-tack-toe play to Nathan MacKinnon for his 14th tally of the season.
At this point, the Avalanche were just getting started — and they proceeded to break the game wide open in the second period. Patrik Nemeth tallied his first goal of the season at 11:33, then Colin Wilson converted another power play goal at 17:49 off of an incredible sauce pass from Mikko Rantanen.
The visitors had the game on cruise control by that point.
The third period took an eternity to complete, but the Avalanche added three more goals for good measure to bring their lead up to 7-1.
First, Tyson Barrie netted a rebound off another nice quick passing play just one minute into the period. Nikita Zadorov followed that up with goal six, when he finished on a pinch into the offensive zone at 2:47, and Matt Calvert added the final dagger with a net front tip at 8:42.
Rookie forward Austin Wagner would surprise with some help for the Kings late in the game, nabbing both his first career NHL point (assisting on a Matt Luff score at 13:14) and his first career goal just minutes later.
While this served as a good reminder to the Avalanche that the game is never over — and to the Kings that 21-year olds can play in the league in their second year of professional hockey and contribute — it just wasn’t enough. Despite the late push, the Avalanche would depart southern California with a successful four point stay.
While the Avalanche took on a beaten down LA Kings team, this game showed a glimpse of the potential this team possesses as they begin to return to full health. With JT Compher expected to join the team soon, he could be added to a group that boasts scoring up and down the lineup. If so, the group could be poised to begin a strong run.
Secondary scoring keeps coming up as a topic of concern, but games like this highlight that the team has already received contributions from every part of their lineup. Nemeth became the final defenseman to tally a goal this season, leaving only Gabriel Bourque and Marko Dano as the remaining players on the roster yet to record a goal this season.
Alexander Kerfoot led the team with a three point night, and is quietly up to 17 points in 21 games. Others who had a multi-point effort include the usual suspects in Tyson Barrie, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen — but also Tyson Jost, Carl Soderberg and Vladislav Kamenev, who each had a two-point evening. Kamenev in particular had another strong evening, and managed to succeed during some heavy minutes on the penalty kill when the game was still in doubt.
The road trip heads to Arizona for its final stop in a meeting with the Coyotes at 6pm MT on Friday, November 23rd.