Adrian Kempe scored the shootout winner and the Los Angeles Kings rallied from two goals down in the third period to beat Colorado 5-4 on Thursday night and snap a nine-game losing streak to the Avalanche.
Trailing 4-2 entering the the third, Alex Iafallo scored on the power play at 1:11. Then Sean Walker tied it from the slot with 5:40 left on Kevin Fiala’s 26th assist.
Viktor Arvidsson scored in the second round of the shootout, and after Pheonix Copley stopped Mikko Rantanen, Kempe clinched the Kings’ first win in Denver since Dec. 31, 2018.
Gabriel Vilardi and Phillip Danault also scored and Copley made 23 saves for the Kings, who improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven games.
“We got back to the little details,” Danault said of the comeback. “Nobody cheated. We played solid defensively and we didn’t give up much. (Copley) was outstanding again. A very big character win.”
Cale Makar had a goal and two assists in Colorado’s three-goal burst late in the second period, but the Avalanche faded in their second straight loss.
“I thought we had a good third period. I just didn’t like the goals we gave up,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “Too easy. It’s a tough league and those two goals were too easy.”
J.T. Compher, Andrew Cogliano and Evan Rodrigues also scored for Colorado. Rantanen had two assists and Alexandar Georgiev stopped 23 shots.
It marked the first time the banged-up Avs have scored more than three goals in a game since a 6-4 win at Buffalo on Dec. 1. This time the defense let them down late and prevented the Avs from tying a franchise record for longest winning streak against a team.
“That was our game to lose, and unfortunately we did,” Makar said.
Makar, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman last season, had been held to one goal in 14 games before scoring in a loss to Arizona on Tuesday.
He put on a dazzling three-minute display to erase Los Angeles’ 2-1 second-period lead.
First, Makar fed Cogliano for the tying goal at 15:58. Then he intercepted a pass at center ice, eluded two Kings players and scored from the slot at 16:43.
Then Makar made a touch pass to Rodrigues for his ninth goal at 18:47, making it 4-2 and capping Makar’s second career three-point period.
“In the second period he really got going,” Bednar said. “Third period he was good again. I thought he was a big difference-maker for us.”
But the Kings rallied to continue an impressive stretch that’s included wins over East-leading Boston, West-leading Vegas and now ending a long drought against last season’s Stanley Cup champions.
“We’ve done that all year, get down, and we’ve been able to battle back,” Walker said. “That’s kind of our identity right now, unfortunately. But hopefully we can play with some leads more often and we’ll go from there.”
NOTES: It was LA’s fifth overtime in seven games and Colorado’s fourth in five games. … Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon is “getting close” to returning, Bednar said. … Avalanche G Pavel Francouz (lower body) was unavailable for a second straight game. Jonas Johansson served as Georgiev’s backup. … It was the Kings’ 39th game, most in the NHL. Colorado has played 34. … Avs C Alex Newhook went to the dressing room late in the first period but returned. He was crunched into the side boards by Kevin Fiala, who drew a boarding penalty. … Rantanen has 30 points in 23 games against LA.
Kings: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.
Avalanche: Host Toronto on Saturday night.
By MIKE CRANSTON, Associated Press
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.