DENVER – Brad Richardson could’ve been a part of the Colorado Avalanche’s trend toward youth.
Instead, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings, becoming a piece of their youthful endeavour.
Richardson had three goals, including a tiebreaking short-handed tally late in the third period, and the Kings beat Colorado 6-4 on Saturday night in a matchup of the two youngest teams in the NHL.
“It does feel good to get (a hat trick) against your old team,” said Richardson, acquired by the Kings in June 2008. “No hard feelings. It was great to play here. I loved being here, but it does feel sweeter.”
These teams have a similar look, both boasting young, spry lineups. The Kings have an average age of 25.9 and the Avalanche 26.4.
“It’s a good young, hockey club, as we are,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Everybody is moving in the right direction. … It’s going to be fun when we meet in the playoffs some day.”
In this game full of youngsters, it was Richardson, at 25 years eight months, who stood out.
Richardson’s winner was set up when Craig Anderson wandered too far out to play a loose puck as the Kings were attempting to kill a five-minute major penalty on Wayne Simmonds.
Jarret Stoll stopped Anderson’s clearing attempt, passing the puck to a wide open Richardson.
In hindsight, Anderson wished he would’ve sent it into the corner, not gone for the clear.
“I tried to make a big play and get it past their two fore-checkers and it cost us the game,” said Anderson, who was in net for a fifth straight game.
Richardson later completed his first career hat trick with a wrist shot to seal the win.
But no hats hit the ice in celebration.
“They must have been sitting really high and couldn’t get them on the ice,” Richardson joked.
Moments before Richardson’s short-handed goal, the Avalanche tied it on Milan Hejduk’s shot after Simmonds went to the penalty box for hitting T.J. Galiardi in the face.
John-Michael Liles had an assist on Hejduk’s goal, giving Liles one in all eight games. That tied Liles with Filip Kuba for the NHL mark of consecutive games with an assist by a defenceman to start a season. Kuba established his record in 2008-09 with Ottawa.
“The assist streak is nice, but we just can’t give up points at home like this,” Liles said. “Especially fighting back and battling back to tie the game. To give up a short-handed goal is unacceptable.”
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown also scored to help the Kings win for the fourth time in five games. Paul Stastny and Hejduk each scored twice for the Avalanche.
Los Angeles took a 4-2 lead in the second period on goals by Richardson and Brown. But Stastny sliced the margin to one late in the period.
The Kings and Avalanche had a goal-filled first period, each team scoring twice.
Ponikarovsky kicked things off, knocking in a shot down low 1:12 into the game.
Just before Ponikarovsky’s goal, Anderson lost his stick and Ryan O’Reilly handed over his. The Kings took advantage of the stickless O’Reilly as Michal Handzus sent the puck to Ponikarovsky, who picked up his first goal of the season during the 500th game of his NHL career.
Hejduk’s two goals and an assist gave him 344 career points at Pepsi Center, tying him with former captain Joe Sakic for the top spot in the building that opened in 1999.
Colorado didn’t have defenceman Adam Foote (head) Saturday and may not have him for a road trip next week. The Avalanche will re-evaluate Foote on Monday to see if the captain will accompany the team on a two-game swing through Canada.
Foote’s absence forced coach Joe Sacco to shuffle his defensive pairings. Scott Hannan took Foote’s spot alongside Kyle Cumiskey, but was knocked out of the game with a head injury in the second period. It was unclear how he was injured.
Sacco said the team would know more Sunday about the condition of Hannan.
NOTES: The Kings has 12 of their 18 skaters register a point Saturday. … Stastny had a season-high three points. … Avs F Matt Duchene tied his career high with two assists. … Murray wasn’t sure if Simmonds’ penalty would draw a closer look by the league, possibly resulting in supplementary discipline.