Svatos scores decisive goal as Avalanche edge Kings

By Jonathan Raber
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) — When it comes to shootouts, no team
comes through like the Colorado Avalanche.

Marek Svatos and Milan Hejduk scored in the shootout and Peter
Budaj stopped both shots he faced in the bonus format as the
Avalanche posted a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on

Budaj stopped Patrick O’Sullivan’s wrist shot before Svatos beat
goaltender Erik Ersberg between the pads with a backhander.
Captain Dustin Brown was denied on Los Angeles’ second attempt,
and Hejduk slipped in another backhander to seal the win.

Hejduk, Wojtek Wolski and Paul Stastny scored in regulation and
Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Avalanche, who snapped a two-game
skid despite the continued absence of captain Joe Sakic due to a
back injury.

“(Budaj) has been very solid the last couple of weeks,” Colorado
coach Tony Granato said. “And when you’re confident in your
goalie, that makes a difference in every game.”

Colorado has now won all four of its shootouts this season, and
eight in a row dating back to last season – the longest active
streak in the league.

“It’s a huge win. We’re playing good hockey,” Avalanche right
wing Ian Laperriere said. “We came here for a battle and we
came out with two points.”

O’Sullivan, Brown and Alexander Frolov tallied and Ersberg made
26 saves for the Kings, who have lost three of four (1-2-1).

“A shootout loss is a shootout loss,” Brown said. “It’s 50-50,
really. They had better shooters than we did.”

“Maybe we had a few letdowns, but we’ve got to work from that,”
Kings rookie defenseman Drew Doughty said.

Trailing by a goal after two periods, the Kings took their first
lead of the night when O’Sullivan and Brown scored in a span of
74 seconds early in the third.

It did not take long for Colorado to respond, however, as
Stastny knotted it at 3-3 with a deflection in front of the net
less than 2 1/2 minutes later.

“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.”

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Things got heated in the second period, when John Zeiler laid a
big hit on Colorado defenseman Adam Foote, which resulted in a
brief delay due to the injury and an ensuing melee.

Zeiler leveled Foote with a vicious blow into the boards nearly
seven minutes into the session, sending the veteran to the ice,
where he lay motionless for a few moments. Paramedics wheeled a
stretcher onto the ice, but Foote was able to skate off with
some assistance.

Foote was diagnosed with a back injury and did not return.

“I saw Foote on the ground, and I kind of knew it wasn’t a clean
hit because he was hit from behind,” Laperriere said. “We all
jumped in there to back up our teammate. But those hits have to
stop before someone gets hurt or even killed. Guys have to be
smarter, and it has to come from the players. The league can
only do so much.”

When the dust settled, five players received penalties –
including Zeiler, who was given a boarding major and game
misconduct as well as a roughing minor.

Less than a minute earlier, Wolski had given the Avalanche a 2-0
lead with a power-play goal. But the Kings halved the deficit
with 4:15 left in the period, when Frolov’s slap shot skidded
past Budaj.

“They were stronger on the puck,” Los Angeles coach Terry Murray
said. “They were controlling the small areas of the game in the
first two periods, but to come back the way we did in the early
part of the third period is a big effort.”

Like Foote, Wolski ended up departing after taking a big hit.
Kings defenseman Sean O’Donnell crunched the Pole’s head into
the end boards in the third, chasing him from the game.