Down early and often in recent games at Ball Arena, Denver’s Colorado Avalanche failed again to overcome early goals to their visiting foe and went down to defeat 5-2 to the surging Los Angeles Kings.
Tonight’s painful loss was felt by each and every fan that exited the venue after the late-in-season match.
Despite the Avs enjoying a good morning skate, their training session did not translate into much-needed points nine hours later.
1st Period: 0-2
Once again, the home side looked disjointed despite putting their best available on the ice at the start of the match. Head coach Jared Bednar kept recombining his players throughout the game, however, a positive mix was never fully achieved.
Regrettably, Colorado fans sitting in Denver’s Ball Arena, listening to Conor McGahey from his perch on the press floor, or watching from the comforts of their favorite NHL fandom saloon- the Avs came up well short of quenching their fan’s desire for a decisive victory.
In the first period, a determined L.A. side scored twice. Their first goal arrived in the seventh minute when Adrian Kempe scored a wicked goal. It was his 31st of the 2022-23 campaign. Anze Kopitar and Matt Roy assisted him.
According to the Kings’ match-night handout, the black and white from Crypto.com Arena are 12-1-1 after they go ahead first. They improved on that fact to 13-1-1 when the final horn honked.
LA’s second appeared to be a miracle on ice. Gabe Vilardi received an outlet pass from a cluster of players at the corner, then flashed the puck past Avs’ King George - Alexander Georgiev for his 22nd goal of the season.
2nd Period: 1-2
In the second period, the Avs finally broke down the Kings’ backline line when a 1-2-3- combination between Evan Rodrigues, Sam Girard, and Alex Newhook produced a high-flying goal.
Rodrigues’ swat not only generated his 13th goal of the season but also brought the pent-up crowd to their feet. Colorado fans kept up their deafening roar until the bitter end.
Bednar was pleased with Rodrigues’ performance. He commented that the winger looked good during the team’s morning practice. As a result, he was elevated to the second line. Fans should expect to see him there for the balance of the season. “My feeling is that E-Rod needs to play on thatline. He’s the guy,”
Third Period: 2-5 final
Twenty-four seconds into the third period, the refreshed Kings’ caught Colorado off-guard and scored again. It was the second miracle on the ice of the long night. Kempe scored on a twisting shot in front of the goal. He was assisted by Kopitar and Valad Gavrikov who gave the Avs’ defensive unit grief throughout the game.
The Avs refocused and the combo of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen generated a gorgeous power-play goal at the 4:24 mark.
Before you knew it, the on-ice celebration was over as Los Angeles again came after Colorado.
The Kings scored their fourth goal and experienced the sensation of revenge. Phillip Danault, Jordan Spence, and Kevin Fiala mixed it up, and Danault scored his 17th.
He did so again at the 17:25 mark when Trevor Moore fed him a handsome pass, and he sent the puck nearly 200 feet into the empty net.
L.A. never looked back. They stacked up their big five at the blue line, deterred each and every attack, and beat Colorado by three.
During his presser, the bench boss emphasized that his up and down team needs to shift its mindset into high gear, “It’s a focus and determination of passion, a deep desire and a will to want to win. That’s what it seems like tonight.” Bednar continued, “Again, it wasn’t a horribly played hockey game from us, but we didn’t get the result we wanted. I just can’t help but feel like there’s still another gear for us to get to. How do we get there? We gotta want it. We got to want it more than we want it right now.”
Tonight the Avs lacked their usual, hard-checking, and blocking style of play. The Avs offense lacked a certain gusto too.
Los Angeles did a much better job on defense, and admirably supported their newly acquired goalminder, Joonas Korpisalo.
During his post-game visit with the media, MacKinnon summed it up best, “I thought we actually created a fair amount of chances. Just bad reads. Every mistake felt like they just capitalized on.” He concluded, “ It was a weird game.”
The skipper added, “We have another level yet against these good teams that we have to go to with the passion of our game and the intensity of our game. The competitiveness in those important areas, the net front, we weren’t good enough.” Bednar continued, “We played pretty smart and the scoring chances against us weren’t really high. I just didn’t like a couple of the ones we gave up. It just seemed too easy.”
With the win, Los Angeles has now won five straight. They departed for Southern California to kick off a seven-game homestand before their buoyant fan-base, To that end, it was odd not to see their steady goalkeeper, Jonathan Quick defending their goal. For some L.A. fans, his pedigree, and competitive disposition will be missed, especially this time of the season.
Colorado (35-22-6) will next host Arizona (23-32-10) on Saturday night, and close out their last four-game homestand. Puck drop is at an early 4:00 p.m.