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02/23/2013 8:14 PM EST
Kings beat Avalanche 4-1 for 3rd straight win
LOS ANGELES 4, COLORADO 1

By JOE RESNICK
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- After a sluggish start to the lockout-delayed
season, the Los Angeles Kings appear to be rounding into playoff
form - particularly on defense.



Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter scored first-period goals, Trevor
Lewis added his first career short-handed goal, and the
defending Stanley Cup champions beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1
on Saturday for their third straight victory.



Anze Kopitar also scored and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for
the Kings, who won for the fifth time in six games after
beginning the day 11th in the Western Conference and two points
behind the postseason cutoff.



Last season, Los Angeles became the first team to win the Cup as
a No. 8 seed, and the first to knock off the top three seeds in
its conference to get there.



"We're not giving teams too much time and space to make plays,
and not giving up too many shots," center Jarret Stoll said. "We
still have to clean up some little defensive zone stuff, but
we're not giving up too much, and our goaltending's been good.



"We've given up a few too many Grade-A scoring chances, and
Quickie had to make some big saves again."



Milan Hejduk scored a power-play goal for the Avalanche, who had
won five straight against the Kings. Semyon Varlamov made 22
saves after stopping 33 shots in a 1-0 overtime win against St.
Louis on Wednesday.



Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who missed 11 games because
of a concussion sustained Jan. 26 at San Jose, returned to
action. The 20-year-old left wing from Stockholm was last
season's rookie of the year.



"It's exciting to be back," said Landeskog, who played 19
minutes and had two shots on net. "It was a tough game, though.
L.A. came out hard, and they were strong on the puck, and they
made us play in our zone. I was really rusty with the puck, but
my hands, timing and conditioning will come."



The Kings, outscored 18-5 in the first period through their
first 15 games, took a 1-0 lead 58 seconds after the opening
faceoff. Brown converted a cross-ice pass from Justin Williams
for his fifth goal, beating Varlamov to the stick side with a
one-timer.



Carter scored his ninth goal and fifth in six games, beating
Varlamov low to the stick side with a wrist shot from the slot
for a 2-0 lead after Mike Richards backhanded the puck to him
from the left boards.



"We're playing well as a line and we've been winning a lot of
puck battles lately," Carter said. "Richards is doing a great
job of finding me, Lewie's doing a great job of getting on pucks
in the forecheck and turning them over for us. I've just kind of
been hanging out in the slot, and it's been working for us."



Quick helped keep the score that way through the end of the
first, robbing Paul Stastny just in front of the crease in the
final minute after a perfect setup by Landeskog.



"I think it might have been a little bit of a broken play,"
Quick said. "(Landeskog) didn't look like he had too much space,
so you kind of make that read there and figure that if he does
shoot it, he's not going to get off a quality shot.



"The smart play for him was to get it over to (Stastny), which
he did. But luckily, the bad ice here got the puck rolling when
it got to him. He tried to get as much wood on it as he could,
but he didn't get as much as he would have liked, and I was able
to get a body part on it."



The Avalanche eventually got on the board at 1:16 of the second
period with a goal by Hejduk during a 4-on-3 power play, but the
Kings made it 3-1 just 1:35 later with their first short-handed
goal of the season. Lewis put a soft wrist shot between
Varlamov's pads from the right circle after Stoll blocked a slap
shot by Tyson Barrie at the other end.



"They made some good passes, and I just tried to get into the
lane in desperation," Stoll said. "We got a little lucky, and
Lewie did a great job of getting down the ice and putting it
away."



Kopitar made it 4-1 at 16:42 of the second with a snap shot that
beat Varlamov to the stick side after Dustin Penner circled the
net and fed Kopitar in the slot.



The Kings began a 16-game stretch in which they will play 13
times at home. They played eight of their previous nine on the
road, going 5-4.



"We've got a lot of home games coming up, so we've got to try
and bank these points and win games," Stoll said. "Everybody on
the team has their roles, and there are certain guys on the team
that need goals and points to get their confidence going.



"Confidence is a funny thing. It comes and goes. And when you
have it, you've got to try to keep it."



NOTES: A moment of silence was observed for Jerry Buss, who died
Monday at age 80. Buss purchased the Kings, Lakers and the
Inglewood Forum from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979, and owned the
Kings for nine seasons. ... C Ian Laperriere, whose 15-year NHL
career included nine seasons for Los Angeles and four with
Colorado, was honored in a pregame ceremony - the first
installment of the Kings' annual "Legends Series." Kelly Hrudey,
the only goalie other than Quick to lead the Kings to the
Stanley Cup finals (1993), will be honored on March 9. ... Kings
D Drew Doughty is still looking for his first goal after 16
games, the five-year veteran's longest drought from the start of
a season. ... Colorado has allowed five goals in 38 short-handed
situations in 11 games.

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