DENVER – Ryan Smyth scored two second-period goals then was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being checked into the boards, Jordan Leopold had three assists and the Colorado Avalanche halted a four-game home skid with a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Smyth was injured when Los Angeles defenceman Jack Johnson checked him into the glass at the end of the Avalanche bench late in the second period.
The Colorado forward lay motionless on the ice for several minutes as trainers rushed out to attend to him. The Avalanche reported that he was conscious and walking, but was sent to the hospital for further examination.
Smyth’s goals came 1:50 apart, and were his 13th and 14th of the season.
Joe Sakic scored his ninth goal of the season and Ruslan Salei had his first goal in an Avalanche sweater. Salei was acquired from Florida just before the trade deadline. He had three goals in 65 games with the Panthers.
Andrew Brunette added an empty-net goal with 49.2 second remaining after the Kings pulled goalie Dan Cloutier near the 2-minute mark.
Rob Blake scored his sixth goal of the season against his former team, and Michael Cammalleri had a power-play goal early in the second period.
The Avalanche have won three in a row since the signing of Peter Forsberg, who hasn’t suited up for the team yet.
Forsberg went through more than a 60-minute workout on the ice Saturday morning, but didn’t play against the Kings. The Avalanche forward said he needed more practice time with his teammates – and a chance to get acclimated to skating again at altitude – before he was ready.
“We’re going to take our time,” said Forsberg, who signed a one-year pro-rated deal with Colorado last Monday. “How long it’s going to take, we don’t know yet. We don’t want to rush it.”
The Swedish forward said he could possibly make his Colorado debut Tuesday night against Vancouver.
After his hit on Smyth, Johnson was booed each time he touched the puck. Ian Laperriere went after Johnson early in the third period, but Blake stepped into the fray, breaking it up. All three were given penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Jose Theodore stopped 25 shots for Colorado, improving to 12-9-1 in his last 22 starts.
The Avalanche started March on a similar note as last season when they went 11-1-2 in the month, tying the franchise record for wins in a single month.
Marek Svatos increased his points streak to six straight games with an assist on Salei’s goal, but left the game soon after with a knee injury.
Adam Foote made his first Pepsi Center appearance Saturday after being acquired by Colorado just before the trade deadline. Foote is third on the franchise’s all-time games played list with 802.
He remains a fan favourite and highlights of Foote’s first stint with Colorado were show on the scoreboard during the first period. The crowd erupted and Foote acknowledged the applause by standing up in the bench area and waving his stick.
The Avalanche also unfurled a 35-foot banner inside the arena’s atrium, which welcomed back Foote and Forsberg. Fans lined up to sign the banner.
Notes: Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury. … Kings forward Scott Thornton was back in the lineup after missing six games with an upper body injury. … Kings centre Anze Kopitar had two assists Saturday night, giving him 36 this season.