LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Los Angeles Kings’ special teams had to be at their best to compete with one of the NHL’s special teams.
Derek Armstrong scored the tying goal with 3:15 left in the third period, and the Kings got power-play goals from Alexander Frolov and rookie Scott Barney against the league’s best penalty-killing unit in a 3-3 tie with the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
“It was a gratifying tie,” Kings coach Andy Murray said. “Our penalty killing stepped up for us tonight and we were able to get a couple of power-play goals, too.”
Milan Hejduk and Alex Tanguay each had a goal and an assist, and Travis Brigley also scored for the Avalanche, who extended their road unbeaten streak to seven games. They are 12-1-2 in their last 15 overall, and lead the NHL with 69 points.
“Of course, we have a lot of talent, but if you don’t work hard there’s no way you’re going to score goals,” Avalanche goaltender David Aebischer said. “We have talented players who work very hard, and that’s why we score a lot of goals.”
“We had a ton of scoring chances, but we didn’t put them away and we paid the price for it,” Colorado’s Paul Kariya said. “If you let a team hang in there like we did, they get a bounce and it’s going to be a tie game.”
Kings goalie Cristobal Huet, who beat the Avalanche 2-0 in Denver on Nov. 22, started for the first time since Jan. 7 and made 26 saves.
Brigley, playing his second game after missing the previous 18 because of a back injury, gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 5:01 of the second period.
Hejduk made it a two-goal margin less than four minutes later, scoring on a wraparound into a wide-open net after Huet came out a little too far on the rush and got tangled up with defenseman Joe Corvo while trying to scramble back to his feet.
Hejduk’s goal was his 25th in 51 games this season—the same number he had at this stage last season, when he led the NHL with 50. Tanguay, who will play in his first All-Star game Feb. 8, set it up with his league-leading 41st assist.
“The thing about Hejduk is his consistency and his hands around the net,” Colorado coach Tony Granato said. “He’s scored big goals for us ever since he got here. That’s his strength. He’s very tenacious on the puck. He finds openings and finds ways to get available.”
Frolov narrowed the gap to 3-2 at 13:26 of the second period, scoring his 17th on a goalmouth scramble while Avalanche captain Joe Sakic was off for hooking. The goal came shortly after the Avalanche, who have the league’s best power play, failed to score on a five-on-three advantage they had for 1:40.
“The turning point was that five-on-three,” Armstrong said. “If they scored, it would have been 4-1. The penalty kill did a great job, and Cristobal Huet stayed in there.”
Brigley was serving a high-sticking penalty when the Kings opened the scoring at 7:59 of the first. Barney tipped in a slap shot by Mattias Norstrom, but the lead lasted just 63 seconds because Tanguay scored during a goalmouthscramble after Forsberg started the play from behind the net.
Luc Robitaille’s goal streak ended at four games. … The Kings begin a seven-game road trip Saturday night at Edmonton. They’ve had 16 other trips of seven or more games since 1991—and had a winning record in only one of them. … Friday night will mark Kariya’s first game at Anaheim since leaving the Mighty Ducks after eight seasons—and his first look at the Western Conference championship banner he helped win with six goals and six assists in the playoffs last year. Kariya didn’t accompany the Avalanche during their previousvisit to the Pond because of an injured wrist.