O'Connor scores 2 1st-period goals, Avalanche roll past Kings
DENVER (AP) — Logan O’Connor scored two of Colorado's three first-period goals helping the Avalanche to a 5-1 victory Friday night over the Los Angeles Kings in the team's final game before the NHL All-Star break.
In a matchup of the league’s top scoring offense and its third-stingiest scoring defense, Colorado continued its recent offensive tear in which it has scored 18 goals during its three-game win streak.
“As a line, we’re just having a lot of fun out there and playing predictable to each other," O'Connor said. "We’re using our strengths to our advantage.”
Alexandar Georgiev, who will be taking part in his first career All-Star Game next week, stopped 26 shots.
MacKinnon’s goal and assist moved him past Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL points lead with 84 and extended his franchise-record home point streak to 25 games. That latter mark ties him with Bobby Orr in 1974-75 for the second-longest home point streak to open an NHL season.
O’Connor has six goals over Colorado’s past five games. The 27-year-old right wing recorded his first career hat trick six days earlier in a win against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Just because Nate and Mikko (Rantanen) and those guys have been tearing it up doesn’t mean we haven’t been getting some decent contributions from the rest of our lineup here recently," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "That’s why we’re able to put up a handful of goals a night instead of one or two. It’s not just those guys contributing. They’re obviously driving the bus, but we’ve been getting some nice play out of a lot of other guys on the team.”
That depth could be bolstered with Colorado's signing Friday of veteran left wing Zach Parise to a contract for the rest of the season. Bednar praised Parise's reliability, leadership and experience, which are all things he believes could aid the Avalanche in the second half of the season.
“He chips in offensively. He’s a trusted guy on the defensive side,” Bednar said. "We’ll see. We’ll get him in here, see what he looks like with our group and we’ll make a decision.”
Friday’s setback prolonged a midseason tailspin for Los Angeles, which has lost 13 of its past 15 games after starting the season 20-7-4. During the team’s current three-game losing streak, a previously stout defense has allowed 14 goals.
The Avalanche took a 3-0 lead in the first period prompting the Kings to pull goaltender Cam Talbot in favor of David Rittich. Heading into his second career All-Star Game appearance, Talbot gave up three first-period goals on 12 shots.
Kevin Fiala scored the Kings’ goal, firing a slap shot past Georgiev on a power play in the second period.
Los Angeles had its share of scoring opportunities, but failed to convert. Trevor Moore, the team’s leading scorer, had two scoring chances against Georgiev, who made a glove save on the first, with Moore firing wide left on the second.
“We know we have a good group in here," Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson said. "We have the right pieces. But at the same time, we’ve got to start taking ownership of it as a group and turning this around.”
Avalanche: At the New York Rangers on Feb. 5.
Kings: At St. Louis on Sunday.
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