Conroy, Thornton score first goals of season to lead Kings past Avs 6-5

Avery scored a short-handed goal in the second period that keyed a four-goal rally and added the game-winner in the third period as the Los Angeles Kings held off the Colorado Avalanche 6-5 Tuesday night. “We just are all trying to get goals and win games,” Avery said. “We have been playing hard and the bounces haven’t been going our way. But tonight they did.”

Avery’s first goal broke a 2-2 tie in the second period, and his second made it 6-4.

“Getting the breakaway short-handed seemed to lift our spirits a little bit,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “We got some big saves from our goalie, so the second was our best period by far. We shot the puck very well, and whether that was a reflection of great shots or subpar goaltending, it was a game tonight where the shooters were good and the chances were plentiful.

“Thankfully, we capitalized on a few more than they did.”

Colorado centre Tyler Arnason set up a frenetic finish when he scored with 2:01 left, and the Avs had a power play for the final 1:17 after Mattias Norstrom was called for high-sticking. But Colorado couldn’t tie it.

Avs goaltender Jose Theodore, who was seeking his first four-game winning streak since Oct. 31 to Nov. 8, 2005, with Montreal, allowed four goals in the second period and was replaced by Peter Budaj with Colorado trailing 5-2 to start the third.

“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, but they also made some great plays,” Budaj said. “Of course, they score one short-handed and that sort of thing should never happen.

“Our team showed a lot of character. Our guys worked really hard. Our third period was really good. It’s a 60-minute hockey game. If we would have played the same way as we did in the third we probably would have won.”

After Craig Conroy’s goal put the Kings ahead 1-0, the Avs outshot the Kings 7-0 over the final 4:42 of the first period, and two of those went past Dan Cloutier to give Colorado a 2-1 advantage. Marek Svatos tied it at 1 with 3:52 left when he scored on a power play with an assist from Joe Sakic, and 24 seconds later Wojtek Wolski scored off a give-and-go with Ossi Vaananen.

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The momentum quickly shifted, however, when Lubomir Visnovsky tied it at 2 just 2:20 into the second period, and then the Kings scored two goals a minute apart to take control.

Avery gave the Kings the lead with a short-handed goal off a pass from Alexander Frolov, his first of three assists.

“When you do that short-handed, they are generally killers,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said.

A minute later, Scott Thornton received the puck from Michael Cammalleri and put it past Theodore for a 4-2 lead.

Frolov assisted on Anze Kopitar’s goal with two minutes left in the period that made it 5-2 and led to Theodore taking a seat for the third.

Brett McLean’s goal 90 seconds into the third cut Colorado’s deficit to 5-3, and Sakic scored at 12:08 to pull the Avalanche to 5-4. With the goal, Sakic tied Ray Bourque (1,506 with Boston) for the fifth-most points for a single franchise in NHL history.

Just more than a minute later, Avery’s second goal made it 6-4.

“We don’t need games like this,” Avs forward Ian Laperriere said. “We played poorly and at times have found ways to win. That’s what happened against Vancouver, but not tonight. You can’t play like this for 82 games.”

Notes: Sakic needs one assist to tie Stan Mikita (926) for 15th place on the NHL’s career list. … Theodore saved 17 of 22 shots. In his previous three games, he stopped 97 of 103.