DENVER, CO – It turns out returning home isn’t always the automatic fix the Colorado Avalanche hope it can be.
Despite a Herculean effort from Cale Makar, the Avalanche blew a two goal lead in the third period and fell to the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in a shootout.
The loss ended the three game home winning streak the team had started before the Holiday break.
Gabriel Vilardi, Phillip Danault, Alex Iaffalo, and Sean Walker scored in regulation for the Kings, with Adrian Kempe and Viktor Arvidsson adding goals in the shootout.
The Avalanche goals were scored by J.T. Compher, Andrew Cogliano, Cale Makar (we’ll get to that one later), and Evan Rodrigues. Makar would add two assists, with Mikko Rantanen also chipping in with two beautiful assists.
Once again, the Avalanche got off to a real slow start, generating nothing offensively in the first period. The Kings got on the board first, as Jaret Anderson-Dolan weaved into the Avalanche zone, before dropping it to Vilardi, who had time and space to rip the puck past Alexandar Georgiev.
The second period would see a much better effort from the Avalanche, led by their two superstars in Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen. They got on the board after some chaotic play at the offensive blue line led to Rodrigues finding Rantanen on the back door, who would then hit Compher for a wide open goal.
The Kings, however, found a way to punch back on the power play after an offensive zone penalty by Kurtis MacDermid, with a pretty passing play of their own resulting in a Danault goal.
At that point, it looked like Cale Makar had had enough.
Just 1:59 after Danault’s goal, Makar would hit Cogliano with a pass down the right wing, and Cogliano fired a wrist shot far side past Pheonix Copley.
45 seconds later, Makar would take matters into his own hands, intercepting a pass in the neutral zone, before entering the offensive zone and firing a wrist shot against the grain past Copley to give the Avalanche the lead. He wasn’t done there.
At 18:47 of the second period, Rodrigues would give the Avalanche the dreaded two goal lead after Makar and Rantanen created magic off the rush, allowing Rodrigues to bury a shot in close glove side.
A two goal lead should have been more than enough for the Avalanche to hold on for the win.
It was not.
After a bizarre penalty taken by Brad Hunt on the bench, Iafallo would find himself all alone in the slot to put the Kings within one at 1:11 of the third period. It would be the Kings second powerplay goal of the game.
The teams traded some chances most of the third period, but the Kings would get the tying goal with under six minutes left in the third, as Sean Walker toe dragged around a Sam Girard poke check before putting the puck up over Georgiev’s blocker to tie the game.
The game would head to overtime, which was largely uneventful, outside of a puck bouncing over Makar’s stick as he stared down an empty net.
Neither Rodrigues nor Rantanen were able to get the puck past Copley in the shootout, while both Arvidsson and Kempe were able to beat Georgiev cleanly, giving the Kings the 5-4 victory.
The Avalanche will stay at home and take on the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday evening. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.
It may also mark the return of Nathan MacKinnon, who Coach Bednar said could return to the lineup before New Year’s.