LOS ANGELES – The Colorado Avalanche extended their winning streak in shootouts to eight with two goals, even after losing two players to aggressive checks against the boards.
Marek Svatos and Milan Hejduk scored in the first two rounds of the shootout, giving the Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. The only teams that won more consecutive times in the tiebreaker are Dallas (11) and Minnesota (nine).
Colorado defenceman Adam Foote left the game with a back injury at 6:51 of the second period. He was chasing the puck into the left corner of the Avalanche zone when Kings forward John Zeiler shoved him into the boards with his right forearm. Foote remained motionless on his stomach for several moments while his teammates went after Zeiler.
“I heard it, then I turned around and I saw Foote on the ice,” Colorado forward Ian Laperriere said. “I kind of knew it wasn’t a clean hit because (Zeiler) is known for that. He did that last year, checking guys from behind and stuff like that. So we all jumped in there to back up our teammate.”
The play occurred right in front of referee Stephane Auger, who made no call until after the ensuing fight broke out. Zeiler received a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct. Foote eventually got up and was escorted off the ice by Laperriere and a trainer. The Avalanche ended up with a three-minute power play, but came up empty.
It was only the second game this season for Zeiler, who racked up 45 penalty minutes in 59 NHL games before this season.
“He’s a young player and he wants to make a big impression, but that’s the wrong way to do it,” Laperriere said. “You can be physical without being dirty – and it was a dirty hit from behind. I mean, those hits have to stop before somebody gets killed. The league can do so much, suspension-wise, but as players we’ve got to be smarter – coaches, too.”
A similar incident occurred with 11:46 left in regulation. Wojtek Wolski chased a loose puck behind the Kings’ net and Sean O’Donnell sent his head against the boards with his right elbow, leaving the Colorado forward woozy for several moments. He made it to the dressing room under his own power, and no penalty was called.
“We came here for a battle and we came out with two points, so that’s all that matters,” Laperriere said. “They’re a young team, they work hard, and we knew they were going to until the end. It’s a huge win for our team. We’re not winning as many games as we want to, but we’re playing good hockey.”
Hejduk and Wolski scored power-play goals for the Avalanche, and Paul Stastny tied it with 15:31 left in the third period.
Patrick O’Sullivan and Dustin Brown scored 74 seconds apart early in the third period and Alexander Frolov connected during a power play for the Kings. But O’Sullivan and Brown were stopped in the shootout by Peter Budaj, who made 27 saves in regulation.
O’Sullivan tied it two-all just 49 seconds into the third period. Budaj stopped O’Sullivan’s initial shot from the left circle, but left a long rebound. Anze Kopitar got the puck and fed it behind the net to O’Sullivan, who was stopped on a wraparound and flipped the rebound over Budaj’s glove.
Brown put the Kings ahead for the first time at 2:03 of the period, splitting through the defence and taking a wrist shot that trickled through Budaj’s pads. But Stastny tied it about 2 1/2 minutes later when he redirected Scott Hannan’s one-timer from the left point past Erik Ersberg’s glove.
“You look at that game, and we obviously didn’t play as well as we would have liked in the second or the first. But we battled back, and that’s the key thing,” Brown said. “A shootout loss is a shootout loss, but it’s a good point.”
Trailing 2-0, the Kings used their power play to get on the board at 14:45 of the second period after Wolski received a four-minute high-sticking penalty for cutting Kyle Quincey. Frolov beat Budaj from the left circle.
The Avalanche, 2-for-34 on the power play over their previous eight games, opened the scoring at 17:10 of the first period during an advantage. Hejduk beat Ersberg to the glove side with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that caromed in off the right post.
“They have a lot of skilled forwards and they all shoot the puck,” Brown said. “A lot of their chances were off the scramble of blocked shots. Whether they were getting blocked or Ersberg was making saves, it’s hard for our defensive group to respond to all the shots.”
Frolov was serving a penalty for slashing Hannan when Wolski cruised down the slot and converted Stastny’s centring pass at 5:59 of the second period, giving the Avalanche a 2-0 lead.
Notes: Avalanche captain Joe Sakic and Kings executive Luc Robitaille recorded video messages that were shown during Saturday night’s ceremony in Montreal where the Canadiens retired Patrick Roy’s No. 33 jersey. Robitaille scored 16 goals in 39 career games against Roy, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Sakic missed his fifth straight game due to a sore back. … Svatos left Thursday night’s game with an abdominal injury after he was elbowed by Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf and was hospitalized, but went through a full practice on Friday.