Kings beat Avalanche 6-4
Monday, 06.18.2012 / 10:38 PM
DENVER -- How strange did things get Saturday night? A fight involving the Kings' Justin Williams
, one of the league's most genial personalities, didn't even rank among the game's oddest events.
How about the Kings' Brad Richardson
, who started the night with 30 career goals in 254 games, recording his first NHL hat trick against the team with which he started his NHL career?
How about a five-minute penalty for ``butt-ending,'' one that resulted not only in a momentum-turning game-tying goal but then a stunning shorthanded, game-winning goal 90 seconds later?
How about the Kings holding leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 4-2, and losing all three of them?
How about the eight minor penalties, three majors, one double-minor and one game misconduct?
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.
``Gameplan wise, it certainly wasn't a perfect game for us,'' Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi
said, ``but sometimes that's going to happen and you've got to find a way to win a game.''
Richardson broke a 4-4 tie with a shorthanded goal with 6:56 remaining and an even-strength goal with 2:55, to complete a hat trick against the team that traded him to the Kings in 2008.
It's possible that the final storyline of the game still hasn't been revealed. The NHL office is likely to review the butt-ending penalty received by the Kings' Wayne Simmonds
in the third period.
Skating alongside Colorado's TJ Galiardi just under nine minutes into the period, Simmonds appeared to jab the end of his stick into Galiardi's groin area, causing Galiardi to collapse to the ice. Simmonds received the five-minute penalty and a game-misconduct penalty.
Simmonds declined to comment about the play after the game, and Kings coach Terry Murray said of the penalty, ``I would think there would be a look at it, from the league.''
That's a worry for another day, at least. In their second game without injured star defenseman Drew Doughty
, and in the return of veteran defenseman Matt Greene
, the Kings rebounded from their loss at Phoenix on Thursday with a win, and special teams played a huge part.
The Kings entered the game with the league's worst power-play unit, having scored only one goal in six games. The Kings went 2-for-5 on the power play against Colorado though, getting Anze Kopitar
's goal for a 2-1 lead and Dustin Brown
's goal for a 4-2 lead late in the second period.
The fun, such as it was, had just started. Just 55 seconds after Brown's goal, Paul Stastny scored his second goal of the game, and Colorado went into the third period down just one goal.
A huge momentum swing took place on special teams early in the third period. Colorado's Milan Hejduk was given a double-minor penalty for high sticking Ryan Smyth
just 11 seconds into the period. Not only did the Kings fail to score in the four-minute power play, but they had only one shot on goal and gave the Avalanche one shorthanded shot on goal.
Still, the Kings appeared to be in good shape, holding the 4-3 lead, until Simmonds' penalty at the 8:40 mark. The Kings killed the first 2:54 of the penally before Hejduk scored his second goal of the game to tie it 4-4 with 8:26 remaining in the third period.
Colorado still had a power play for the next 2:06, but the Kings stole the momentum back.
Just over a minute after Hejduk's goal, Anderson came far out of his net to play the puck, but Richardson deflected the clear attempt. Jarret Stoll
got it near the left boards and, with Anderson still far out of position, passed to Richardson, who scored to make it 5-4 Kings with 6:56 remaining.
``We try to get up-ice pressure as much as we can, so I went at the goalie, and Stolly made a great read,'' Richardson said. ``He cut off the boards and then Anderson was out of the net, so I basically just had to shoot at the empty net. … We always try to get up ice as much as we can, and we have that second guy come in and try to read off whoever is up the ice. So it was Stolly who made a great read on that, to get the puck to me. A lot of credit to him.''
Richardson completed his hat trick with 2:55 remaining, after another Colorado offensive-zone turnover. Richardson picked off a pass attempt by Colorado's Kyle Cumiskey and shot quickly, beating Anderson with a medium-range wrist shot for a 6-4 Kings lead.
That capped a big night for Richardson. He started the game as the Kings' fourth-line left winger, but early in the second period, and shortly after his first goal, Richardson started taking first-line shifts alongside Kopitar and Brown.
``I made a change with the Kopitar line,'' Murray said. ``I wanted a more responsible player up there in that situation, and Richardson responded. He grabbed the opportunity and then to finish it off the way he did was very rewarding for him, no question.''
Richardson was drafted by Colorado in the fifth round in 2003 and spent parts of three seasons with the Avalanche, but never really found a steady role and was traded to the Kings, for a second-round pick, during the summer of 2008.
After struggling to fit in with the Kings in his first season, Richardson was one of their more underrated players, playing a solid defensive game while contributing 11 goals in 81 games.
Richardson has never scored more than 14 goals in a single season at the NHL level, and he admitted to some extra satisfaction in getting his first hat trick against his former team.
``I would say so,'' Richardson said with a smile. ``That was the first time I got traded, but yeah, it does feel good to get it against your former team, for sure. There are obviously no hard feelings. It was great to play here and I loved being here, but it's a little sweeter I guess, yeah.''
Richardson's shorthanded goal was part of a hugely important night on special teams.
Entering the game, the Kings had converted on only 1 of 22 power-play chances and had gone five consecutive games without a power-play goal. On the flip side, the Kings ranked third in the league in penalty-kill efficiency.
The Kings did give up two power-play goals, but they held the Avalanche to one goal during that critical five-minute power play, then came back and got the game-winning shorthanded goal.
``I've also said, the power play can win you a game but the penalty kill can lose you a game,'' Murray said. ``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.''
The first two minutes of the first period offered a hint that things could get a little nutty.
Before the Avalanche could even get the puck across the red line, the Kings scored. After a long cycle in the Colorado zone, Michal Handzus
pushed the puck to the front of the net. Alexei Ponikarovsky
as there and slipped a backhand shot past goalie Craig Anderson at the 1:12 mark. Wayne Simmonds
also got an assist on Ponikarovsky's first goal with the Kings.
After the Kings' goal, the Avalanche controlled the pace of the game, and got the game-tying goal at the 9:17 mark. Matt Duchene beat Jack Johnson
to the front of the net, and Duchene's backhand shot got deflected, right to Hejduk, who beat goalie Jonathan Quick
with a sharp backhand from close range to make it 1-1.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead with their first power-play goal since the season-opening game at Vancouver. Andrei Loktionov
shot from close range, from the right side of the net, and with traffic in front, Kopitar crashed the net and knocked in the rebound with 8:45 remaining in the first period.
The Avalanche tied the game with a power-play goal of their own, with 4:57 remaining in the first period. Hejduk shot from close range, and Quick made the save by Stastny picked up the rebound and shot while nearly even with the goal line. The shot squeezed through Quick to the short side to make it 2-2.
The back and forth continued into the second period, as the Kings took a 3-2 lead 4:58 into the period. Willie Mitchell
tossed the puck toward the net, and it hit Brayden Schenn
's skates in front. Richardson came in and scored on a close-range wrist shot.
The Kings took a two-goal lead with their second power-play goal of the game. Anderson tried to play the puck into the corner, but Williams stopped it up for the Kings and centered it. Brown was there, in the slot, to beat Anderson with a quick wrist shot with 2:45 remaining in the second period.
The 4-2 lead lasted only 55 seconds, though. Davis Drewiske
's clearing attempt, from deep in the Kings' zone, hit the stick of Colorado's Chris Stewart, and the puck deflected to Stastny, who beat Quick with a wrist shot to reduce Colorado's deficit to 4-3 with 1:50 remaining in the period, setting up the wild third period.
Quick stopped 28 of 32 shots to improve his record to 4-1 this season.
To make room for Greene on the active roster, the Kings assigned rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin
to Manchester of the American Hockey League. Muzzin had played in the Kings' first six games, but the Kings chose to keep Peter Harrold
in the lineup with Doughty out.
Greene played 21 minutes, 24 seconds and had a game-high six hits and a plus-2 rating.