Game 7: Kings survive wild ride against Avalanche

Los Angeles Kings center Brad Richardson, center, celebrates a goal against the Colorado Avalanche with teammates Justin Williams (14) and Brayden Schenn (10) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)Game 7: Kings 6, Avalanche 4

Despite coming off of a frustrating loss to the Coyotes, the Kings had a spring in their step. The reason why? Defenseman Matt Greene made his season debut for the club Saturday night. And it seemed the Kings could take comfort that their blueline was taken care of.

Well, almost.

Even though Greene helped shore up the defensive corps, their defensive performance showed a bit of rust.

The Kings struck first, when The Ukraine Train, Alexei Ponikarovsky scored within the first two minutes of the game to give the Kings an early lead for the second time this season.  

The early goal kicked off a flurry of action that found both goaltenders standing on their heads to make saves. The Kings' power play finally broke through, starting with Anze Kopitar's goal in the first and Dustin Brown's in the third.  

Their success with the man advantage lifted them from the worst in the league to 21st. The outburst of scoring also paid dividends. They went from being ranked 20th in the league in goals per goal to 7th. However, that wasn't the only special teams number to drastically change.  

One of the Kings' strengths this season has been their penalty kill, but that wasn't the case on Saturday.  The Kings allowed two power play goals to Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. And their PK unit dropped from third to tenth.  

The difference in the game was a former Avalanche player who has been one of the more dependable wingers on the team. Brad Richardson stepped up when the team needed a spark.  

His first goal broke the 2-2 deadlock in the second period. That's when coach Murray moved him to the top line. He then scored a shorthanded goal in the third period to break the 4-4 tie. He tallied his third goal four minutes later to secure the win. 

Wayne Simmonds may or may not be suspended for nailing TJ Galiardi in the junk, ahem... butt-ending, during an altercation in the third period. He received a game misconduct and left the game. Many of the replays really didn't show anything, so I'm not entirely sure what will transpire with Simmonds

The one thing I do know will transpire is the Kings will travel to Minnesota for their first nationally televised game against the Wild.

• AP: Richardson’s hat trick lifts Kings over Avs
“It does feel good to get (a hat trick) against your old team,” said Richardson, acquired by the Kings in June 2008. “No hard feelings. It was great to play here. I loved being here, but it does feel sweeter.”
 • LA Times: Brad Richardson's hat trick helps bail out the Kings
If they had their share of good fortune, they also face the misfortune of losing Simmonds, who incurred an automatic $100 fine for the butt-ending incident and could be suspended by the NHL. He declined to comment about it, but Rule 58.6 of the rule book stipulates that the commissioner can apply supplementary discipline "if deemed appropriate."
 • LA Kings.com: Kings beat Avalanche 6-4 Kings beat Avalanche 6-4
At the end of it all, the Kings were able to smile and exhale. In a game devoid of any predictability, the Kings threw the last haymaker and held off the Colorado Avalanche, 6-4, in a wild victory before an announced crowd of 15,478 on Saturday night at Pepsi Center. 
• NHL.com: Richardson's hat trick leads Kings past Avs
"It's not often that you get a five-minute power play with eight minutes left in the third period when it's a tie game," said Kings center Anze Kopitar, who scored a first-period power-play goal that snapped his team's 0-for-16 slump with the man advantage. "So (Richardson's goal) was huge for us. Our power play came through a couple of times and that was huge for us."
 
Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles (4) fights with Los Angeles Kings right wing Justin Williams (14) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)They said it
“It feels good to be back around the guys, and hopefully have a good game tonight. We’re looking for a win here. … I think they [doctors] did a good job. The doctors cleared me, so everything is healed. It’s just a matter of playing the game now. No excuses. It’s all on me, not my shoulder.” - Matt Greene, on returning to action.
It’s not who is going to score more goals. We obviously got six tonight, but in this rink, it’s pretty hard, especially with the team they have and that altitude. We just wanted to make sure we were on top of our game, for sure.” - Anze Kopitar, on winning a wild game.
“It was pretty crazy in the first two periods. I think, in the third period, we calmed it down. We gave up a power-play goal, and it was a tough penalty, but those things are going to happen sometimes and you have to kill them off. We found a way to win anyway.” - Rob Scuderi, on maintaining composure in a wild game.
“I’ve also said, the power play can win you a game but the penalty kill can lose you a game. It ended up tonight that the penalty killing was outstanding at a critical time. We kept the flow going. Lots of guys were intense and on the puck and doing the right things. It was a great team effort in the last 10 minutes of the third period.” - Terry Murray, on the importance of special-teams play.
 

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