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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

Saturday.

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."

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.

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