DENVER (AP)—Soon after scoring his second goal of the game, Ryan Smyth was being taken off the ice on a stretcher after a violent check.
“It was scary,” said Ian Laperriere, whose team snapped a four-game home losing streak. with the win “You hate seeing that happen. It’s a bad feeling.”
Smyth was injured when Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson checked him into the glass at the end of the Avalanche bench late in the second period.
The Colorado forward lay motionless on the ice for several minutes as trainers rushed out to attend to him. The Avalanche reported that he was conscious and walking, but was sent to the hospital for further examination.
“I saw him walking around, so that’s great,” Adam Foote said.
Johnson felt bad about the check that sent Smyth sprawling to the ice.
However, he knew what was coming next. Clean hit or not, a fight had to happen. It’s part of hockey’s code.
But there’s honor among fighters, and Laperriere extended Johnson the courtesy of deciding when the brawl would occur.
“He came up to me and said, ‘Do you want to get it over with?”’ Johnson said. “I said, ‘Sure.”’
The fight never took place as Rob Blake stepped in and played the role of peacemaker, quickly breaking up the fracas. He didn’t want to see his young defenseman get hurt by the fists of Laperriere. Not for what he thought was a clean hit.
“Unfortunately, Ryan got hurt on the play, and nobody wants to see that,” said Blake, a former Avalanche player. “Jack is a young guy and I think we need to let the situation go.”
That was difficult for the Avalanche.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s clean or not clean, it’s a big hit on one of our big players and he got injured and someone had to do something,” Laperriere said. “I felt like it had to be me. Jack knew exactly that someone had to come.”
He knew all right. That’s why he was willing to drop the gloves and take his lumps.
“The kid knew exactly where I was coming from,” Laperriere said. “He wanted to fight and Blake came right in there. I have so much respect for Blake. I knew he wasn’t going to punch me.”
Smyth wasn’t the only banged up Avalanche player on Saturday. The team also lost Marek Svatos, who injured his right knee after assisting on Ruslan Salei’s first goal in an Avalanche sweater midway through the second period.
“It would be tough if the guys were out for any amount of time,” said Joe Sakic, who scored a third-period goal, his ninth of the season. “But we’ve dealt with injuries all year. You have to play through it and persevere.”
The Avalanche could soon be receiving a boost from Peter Forsberg, who went through a 60-minute workout session Saturday morning. The Swedish forward said he could possibly make his Colorado debut Tuesday night against Vancouver.
“Peter Forsberg at 80 percent is better than anybody,” Laperriere said. “He’s so talented. It’s better for him to take his time and come back when he’s ready.”
Colorado has won three straight since the signing of Forsberg and the acquisitions of Salei and Foote at the trade deadline.
Foote remains a fan favorite and highlights of his first stint with Colorado were shown on the scoreboard during the first period. The crowd erupted and Foote acknowledged the applause by standing up in the bench area and waving his stick.
“It’s great to be back,” said Foote, who had an assist on Smyth’s second goal, his first point as a member of Colorado since April 22, 2004. “It was good to add to the offense.”
Avalanche forward Jordan Leopold set a new high with three assists. … Goalie Jose Theodore won his third straight start, matching his longest streak of the season. … Blake and Michael Cammalleri scored for the Kings. … It was Smyth’s second multi-goal game of the season, both coming against the Kings.