After their last game, Drew Doughty called out his teammates, looking for a better performance in their next game. Easier said than done when your next opponent is the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche got out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, stepping on the throats of the frustrated Kings, on their way to a 5-1 victory. For the Kings, it’s their 13th loss in their last 15 games. For the Avalanche, they entered the break having won nine of the 12 games they’ve played in 2024. Maybe not the best time to step away, but everyone appreciates the time off.
Logan O’Connor scored two goals in the first 15 minutes, and Nathan MacKinnon extended his home point streak to 25 games. In net, Alexandar Georgiev was rolling, and stopped 25 of 26 shots in his 40th start of the season.
With just 60 minutes sitting between the Avalanche and a nice, extended break, Colorado went to work. And I think it’s safe to say that everything Drew Doughty said after the last Kings loss didn’t exactly land with his teammates.
Of course, it helps if you can get a save or two, and LA definitely didn’t get that early.
7:44 into the period, Sam Girard’s breakout pass hit a stick and bounced right to Logan O’Connor. The red-hot winger gathered the puck, and from a not-so-dangerous spot on the ice, he sent it through the defenders legs, off the post, and in. Great shot, but from that location, you probably need a save.
Seven minutes later, that line was at it again, with a goal you’d normally expect from them. O’Connor broke up a Kings pass in the neutral zone, and after the Avalanche dumped it in, the trio went to work. Ross Colton knocked it away from Doughty straight to Miles Wood, who hit a wide open O’Connor in the slot. In one motion, he turned and fired it over Talbot’s blocker, and it was 2-0.
At the other end of the ice, Alexandar Georgiev didn’t have to do a whole lot, but he was strong. Trevor Moore snuck in on a mini-breakaway, but couldn’t beat Georgiev on the glove side.
Just a few minutes later, it was time for Nathan MacKinnon to make his mark on the game. Mikko Rantanen’s attempted pass went straight to the Kings, but they were in a giving mood, and Englund kicked it right to Jonathan Drouin, who passed it to MacKinnon. The Avalanche star cut to the middle and sent a shot the opposite way. Talbot got his blocked on it, but it still trickled past him, and it was 3-0. That goal essentially ended the period, and ended Talbot’s night.
The second period went slightly better for the Kings, but not by much. David Rittich replaced Talbot in net, and actually managed to make some stops, unlike his partner.
With Kurtis MacDermid in the box, the Kings finally broke through. O’Connor was playing without a stick, and they managed to take advantage. Kevin Fiala and Laferriere worked a give-and-go, and Fiala blasted a one-timer over Georgiev’s shoulder, getting the Kings on the board.
Right after scoring, Fiala took a four minute high-sticking penalty, giving the Avalanche a huge opportunity to end the game. They failed to do so, and as he was coming out of the box, Fiala was gifted with a breakaway, and a chance to flip the momentum again. He deked to his backhand, but Georgiev stuck out his left pad and stopped it. Fiala even had a few extra whacks at it, but couldn’t get it past Georgiev, so the score remained the same.
With about eight minutes left in the period, the Avalanche worked a give-and-go of their own to reinstate their three goal lead, and it wasn’t exactly the superstars pulling it off. Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano worked off each other, and Manson came in all alone, beating Rittich over his glove for his sixth goal of the season. Colorado carried that 4-1 lead into the third period.
On the opening shift of the third, Adrian Kempe tripped Cale Makar behind the Avalanche net, giving Colorado a powerplay. Six seconds later, Makar made him pay.
Ross Colton won the face-off to Nathan MacKinnon, who sent it to Makar at the point. The Kings forward gave Makar a huge lane to walk in, and he took it. Makar’s shot didn’t make it through cleanly, as it hit Doughty, but that probably helped the situation, as it trickled past a confused Rittich. Just like that, the game was 5-1, and essentially done.
Georgiev finished the third perfect, putting a nice finishing touch on one of his better games in 2024. He’ll now head to Toronto to take part in the All-Star game, joining his teammates MacKinnon and Makar for the festivities.
With the 5-1 win, the Avalanche head into the bye week/All-Star break with a 32-14-3 record, and for the time being, are in first place in the Central Division. They’ll now break until Feb. 5, when they start a six game road trip in New York against the Rangers. Colorado Hockey Now will be at Madison Square Garden for the game, providing coverage from the locker room.