DENVER -- At the end of a five-game road trip, during which conventional wisdom seemed to get tossed aside with regularity, the Kings saved their best trick for last.
Against Colorado, which has scored the most goals in the NHL this year, and has been on an scoring tear of late -- not to mention a six-game winning streak -- the Kings put forth one of their best efforts of the season and won 5-0 on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.
``Top to bottom, every single line, every single D pairing had a solid game,'' Scuderi said. ``Probably our best team game of the season.''
The game hardly could have gone better for the Kings, who ended a tough five-game, 10-day road trip with a 3-2 record and with one of their best 60-minute efforts of the year.
``It's a 10-day trip, five games. It's pretty demanding,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``You're traveling a lot, late nights, and the way we dug in was a very solid game. The third period was our best period out of the three.
``When you're playing those five games, like we have on the road, and you come back and play the third period (like that), that's a big buy-in by everybody. There was a real solid attitude about the team, and checking and doing things the right way.''
But a shutout win? Going in, that would have seemed highly unlikely against a team with perhaps the most-prolific offense in the city of Denver, including the NFL's Broncos.
The Avalanche entered the game leading the league in goals per game (by a wide margin), with an average of 3.61 goals. During its six-game winning streak, Colorado had totaled 27 goals, and the Avalanche had not been shut out this season.
Quick did his part, with a handful of outstanding saves -- including a point-blank glove save on Chris Porter in the third period -- and Quick had an odd set of bookend shutouts.
``It's always good to get a shutout, but tonight it was a great team game,'' Quick said. ``We played a great 60 minutes from start to finish. That Colorado team, that's a great team. We got a little fortunate that they had a couple guys out of the lineup, but it's still a strong, solid team. They had won six in a row, so they had a lot of momentum going into the game. I thought we outplayed them for 60 minutes, and that's the reason we won.''
Quick started the road trip with a 5-0 shutout, at Detroit, and finished it the same way, at Colorado, but the games were completely different. In Detroit, Quick made 51 saves and single-handedly won the game. Against the Avalanche, the Kings did an outstanding job in front of Quick, with few breakdowns and few quality chances for Colorado.
Limiting the Colorado offense had just as much to do with the Kings' forwards as it did their defensemen. The Kings put 32 shots on Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson and, even when they didn't score, the Kings made Colorado focus on defense, not offense.
``I think the key for us was just playing in their zone,'' Scuderi said. ``Watching the last few games on tape, they're a very up-and-down team. I thought they got, I wouldn't say frustrated, but I don't think they were used to playing in their zone so much. That's a credit to our forwards for cycling down low for so long.''
The Kings got positive contributions from all four lines, but the first line of Anze Kopitar, Brown and Richardson was, far and away, the Kings' best line on Tuesday night.
Kopitar, in particular, was a beast, with two assists and six shots on goal. His play with the puck, even when it didn't lead to scoring chances, often kept Colorado on its heels.
``Kopitar was a real man out there tonight,'' Murray said. He was powerful on the puck when he had it. When he's on his game, you almost can't take it away from him. He's that powerful, that big, that strong. When he makes those plays to the net like that, you're standing back there as a coach, and the players are there on the bench and they're just saying, `What a great play. What a powerful player.' Just keep her going like that, Kopi.''
Kopitar didn't get rewarded with a goal for his strong play, but other Kings did, as they got scoring from sources ranging from surprising (Richardson) to shocking (Scuderi).
Scuderi built his reputation, and his bank account, on responsible defensive play, and is often at his best when he's not noticed in his stay-at-home role, but Scuderi had a huge first-period goal when he jumped in, grabbed his own rebound and scored.
Scuderi, who also picked up an assist, scored his fourth career goal and his first career game-winning goal and was asked if he remembered his last goal.
``It was a playoff game,'' Scuderi said. ``Regular season was in Sweden. I've got a high (shooting) percentage in Sweden, but not so much in the United States. But I'll take them any way they come.''
Scuderi's goal gave the Kings a 1-0 lead, and Richardson made it 2-0 with a second-period goal. Richardson is making a habit of burning the team that traded him to the Kings. He had a hat trick in October, the last time the Kings played in Denver.
``He's a bit of an Av killer, I guess,'' Brown said of Richardson. ``Like I said, we played a good game defensively and, my line in particular, I felt like we were in the offensive zone a lot, and controlled the play. When that happens, you're going to get chances and, like I said, it was a pretty good complete game for us.''
Unfortunately for Richardson, the Kings don't play at Pepsi Center again this season.
The first line was solid throughout the game, in its new look. Marco Sturm made his Kings debut, and Murray wanted to start Sturm slowly, in a fourth-line role, so Murray shuffled the rest of his lines. It led to the Richardson-Kopitar-Brown look, which had a combined total of three goals and 11 of the Kings' 32 shots on goal.
Sturm, in his Kings debut, played 11 minutes, 42 seconds, and recorded one shot on goal and one hit while regularly skating with Trevor Lewis and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
``I was very happy that he got through the game and played some minutes,'' Murray said. ``I think he probably played between 10-12 minutes [actually 11:42] and I liked that. He's getting into game and starting to feel the puck, feel the pressure of the forecheck and just competing in the 1-on-1s. There's no evaluation other than that, for me. It was just a matter of getting his feet going again.''
The Kings started the game looking as though they would try to play a smart, defense-first game against the high-powered Avalanche, and that led to their first goal.
Scuderi's first goal of the season gave the Kings a 1-0 lead with 7:34 remaining in the first period. Brown started the play by making a nice move to the front of the net. After a scramble, Scuderi's slap shot from near the top of the right circle was stopped by Anderson, but Scuderi got the rebound, took a stride and beat Anderson with a backhand shot for the only goal of the first period.
``That might have been his third or fourth shot on that shift, too,'' Murray said. ``You just keep putting pucks to the net. There's a lot of traffic in front of goaltenders, and you end up finding a way to get it done. I was happy for him.''
Colorado picked up the pace early in the second period, but the Kings took a 2-0 lead at the 6:31 mark. Drew Doughty got the puck at the blue line and went around a Colorado defender, headed down low. Doughty spotted Richardson in front of the net, and Richardson tapped in Doughty's centering pass.
``it was a beautiful play by Doughty,'' Murray said. ``My God. That's a world-class play by him, holding the puck with composure, looking and finding Richie at the front of the net. All he had to do was redirect the puck.''
Brown's third point of the game, a 4-on-4 goal, gave the Kings a 3-0 lead 7:27 into the third period. Kopitar started the play by taking a pass from Doughty and going strong to the net. Anderson sprawled for a save, but went flat on his belly to do so, and the puck remained free. Brown skated in and roofed a shot.
Brown's big night got even better when 4:57 remaining, as he scored his second goal and recorded his fourth point. Brown took a pass from Ryan Smyth, entered the Colorado zone with speed, and cut to the middle of the ice. Brown fired a wrist shot from between the circles and beat Anderson to make it 4-0.
A goal, just five seconds after the start of a power play, gave the Kings a 5-0 lead. Jarret Stoll won the draw back to Jack Johnson, who fed a quick cross-ice pass to Williams. Williams' one-time slap shot from the top of the left circle deflected in off the post.
``In retrospect, taking three out of (five) is good,'' Brown said of the road trip. ``I think we were a little disappointed in our efforts, especially in St. Louis and Chicago. We had points, probably, there if we played a little better, but looking back now, 3-2 isn't bad.''
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