Kings crawl out from under Avalanche, salvage point

Colorado Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson, right, clears out Los Angeles Kings right winger Dustin Brown from in front of the crease in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Denver on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Game 72: Avalanche 4, Kings 3 (shootout)

All things considered, I like how this one ended. The funny thing is, after sifting through the countless Avalanche blogs, they didn't like how it ended. How bizarre how that happens.

 I guess since the Avs have been there before, Colorado fans know what it takes to win in the playoffs, so their expectations are tempered that way. The Kings have entrenched in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, so many L.A. fans think this is all great, perhaps unaware of what it actually takes to be victorious in the postseason.

The Kings were behind 3-1 when their workhorse goaltender was sent out to pasture for the night. Seldom-used backup goaltender Erik Ersberg starts the second period after a month and a half of waiting. The last time Ersberg played? When he lost in overtime to Edmonton back in February.

The Kings took the second period off, as Ersberg made some solid saves. Then at the beginning of the third period, Drew (King Norris) Doughty scored a power play goal to bring the Kings within one. That's all the motivation they needed.

The Kings limited the Avs to only three shots in the third, as they pumped 14 shots at Craig Anderson. And when Alexander Frolov appeared from out of nowhere to scoring the tying goal and give the Kings a much-needed point. Frolov only have a little over nine minutes in the last game, so it was surprising to see his time doubled Wednesday night.

After a frenzied overtime period, the Kings and Avs went to the shootout. After Anze Kopitar's attempted was blocked, Jack Johnson skated down and deked Anderson out of his wits. But the Avs proved to be too much for Ersberg, who could only make one save out of three shots from Colorado.

But rather that rant on about how the Kings looked listless in the first two periods of the game, I'd rather focus on them coming back form a two-goal deficit. Not only that, but the emergence of both Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty.

Kopitar was everywhere, leading the Kings with four hits and getting two assists (yes, I know the scoresheet says he scored in the first period, but The Hammer reported last night that it will most certainly be attributed to Brad Richardson). Doughty scored his second goal in as many games, lifting him to second overall for defensemen.

Yes, it was nice to see the boys battle back from a two-goal hole and take it into a shootout. But they need to get better, or else they are going to make an early exit from the playoffs.

• AP: Mueller, Stewart lift Avalanche to win over Kings
Los Angeles had trouble generating any sort of offense against the Avalanche early on, being outshot by a 27-11 margin through two periods. Kopitar was the extent of the offense, knocking in a backhanded shot.
• LA Times: Kings learn a pointed lesson in 4-3 shootout loss
But the Kings knew they shouldn't have put themselves in so deep a hole. Since the Olympic break, they only sporadically have shown the poise and smarts that had fueled them for so much of the season, and the absence Wednesday of defenseman Matt Greene -- out because of an upper-body injury -- didn't help their penalty killing or overall defensive play.
• LA Kings.com: Rocky road for Kings
Happy or sad? After the game, the Kings leaned toward the former, particularly since the result felt like an evening-out of Monday’s game, in which the Avalanche scored with 10 seconds remaining to tie the game and the Kings won it in overtime.
• NHL.com:  Avs top Kings 4-3 in shootout
"Obviously you want to win the game, but to finish it off like that … it took us a little longer than we anticipated, but we came back and that was a huge point for us," Kings forward Anze Kopitar said.
They said it
“When you get it to 3-2, it really gets you excited. The players started to get through the middle of the ice, and we got into the offensive zone. Frolov, to me, tonight was tremendous, holding onto the puck and cycling and taking a lot of pressure and making plays. That’s the kind of game that he has to have, but that’s just one player, out of the group, that was doing that." - Terry Murray, on what the Kings did better in the third period.
"No question. As much as we gave away the one at Staples the other night, we got it back. Obviously you want to win the game, but to finish it off like that, it’s pretty something and it shows the character.” – Anze Kopitar, on the importance of getting a point on the road
Colorado Avalanche right winger Chris Stewart, left, scores a goal against Los Angeles Kings goalie Erik Ersberg, of Sweden, in the shootout period of the Avalanche's 4-3 shootout victory in an NHL hockey game in Denver on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)Around the Kingdom

• LA Kings News: Kings get 1 point against Avalanche despite Colorado's 7th man Dan O'Halloran
When the game went into the shootout, I told myself that I should be happy with 1 point but I have since decided that is loser talk. We should have won this game. We should be angry at losing it. Jonathan Quick should be angry at his goaltending and remind all of us why he is a top goaltender in this league.
• ESPN's Tom Murray: Kings still honing their killer instinct
As virtually every player in the room is saying these days, sure we’d like to be scoring more goals, but winning games is the most important thing—especially this time of the year, and that’s exactly what the Kings are doing.
From across the aisle, the Colorado viewpoint

• Denver Post: Avs earn 2 big points vs. Kings
Said Kings center Anze Kopitar, who had a goal and assist: "As much as we gave away the one at the Staples Center the other night, we got it back. Obviously you want to win the game, but to finish it off like that shows some character."
• All Thiings Avs: Postgame Avs-Kings – Never a doubt, right?
If this had been a playoff game, with sudden death for as long as it took, is there much doubt L.A. wins that game?
• Mile High Hockey: Game 73 Recap: Avalanche 4, Kings 3
 I knew that early power play was going to be trouble! Drew Doughty, who is awesome by the way, scores off a point shot with plenty of traffic in front of Anderson. But, surprisingly, the Avs didn't try and close up defensivley.
Peeping the dailies

 

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