LOS ANGELES -- Matinee games haven't been kind to the Los Angeles Kings recently, the early starts leading to lethargic performances and just one win over their last six afternoon games prior to Saturday's game against the Colorado Avalanche.
But thanks to a piercing wakeup call in the form of Dustin Brown's punishing slap shot, the Kings were alert, attentive and aggressive from beginning to end in a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center.
Brown got things rolling 58 seconds into the first period, blasting a shot past Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov to give the Kings a 1-0 lead and a much-needed energy boost.
Jeff Carter followed with another goal 13 minutes later and the Kings had two goals in their first four shots, a 2-0 lead and complete control of the game.
Carter has three goals and four points over the last three games and nine goals and 11 points in the last 14.
The Kings weathered a major storm in the second period when Colorado drew to within 2-1 on Milan Hejduk's wrist shot past Jonathan Quick on a two-man advantage.
With the Avalanche still holding a one-man edge, the Kings' Jarret Stoll dived in front of a shot by Tyson Barrie. The puck bounced off Stoll and was gobbled up by teammate Trevor Lewis, who skated the length of the ice and fired a wrist shot past Varlamov to put the Kings up 3-1.
It was the Kings' first short-handed goal on the season.
The Kings added another goal just before the end of the second period when Dustin Penner and Dwight King assisted on Anze Kopitar's fifth goal of the season to make it 4-1.
Kopitar has 12 points over the last 13 games, including six points in the last seven. Meanwhile, Stoll is now one assist away from 200 for his career.
Quick, who was a game-time decision in goal as Kings coach Darryl Sutter mulled using Jonathan Bernier again, recorded his second straight one-goal game while turning away 23 shots.
NOTES: The schedule maker did the Kings no favors to kick off defense of their Stanley Cup championship, sending them on the road for 11 of their first 15 games. The result was a sluggish 7-6-2 start, although they've won four out of their last five while outscoring opponents 14-7. Nevertheless, what goes around comes around, and now the Kings play 13 of their next 16 games at Staples Center. ... Colorado's Gabe Landeskog, last season's NHL Rookie of the Year, returned to the lineup after sitting out 11 games due to complications from a concussion he suffered against the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 26. ... Forward Milan Hejduk, who left Wednesday's overtime win over St. Louis with a torso injury, was also back in the lineup for the Avalanche. ... Colorado has owned the Kings of late, beating them five straight times heading into Saturday. The Kings had been 8-0-1 against the Avalanche in the nine games prior to that.