LOS ANGELES -- The Colorado Avalanche's great start is rapidly turning into a great season. With coach Patrick Roy installing a new system and instilling confidence, last season's 29th place team is keeping pace with the favorites in the NHL's Central Division.
Winger Jamie McGinn's fourth goal of the season at 2:32 of overtime gave the Avalanche a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
McGinn said that the game-winning goal came as a result of one of the keys to his team's early season successes -- hard work.
"I'm just trying to drive the net, open up and get a lot of wood on it and make sure I hit the net," he said. "We worked hard for the full 60 minutes so we're glad we got rewarded tonight."
A quick transition in the neutral zone was started by defenseman Jan Hejda when he intercepted a pass from Kings center Anze Kopitar, which led to an odd man rush. Hejda found center John Mitchell, who cut into the Kings zone before flicking a cross-ice pass to McGinn, who fired at Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens. Scrivens appeared to make the save, but the puck was deflected into the net off a defenseman in front. A short review determined the puck wasn't kicked in by Hejda, who was cutting in front of the net looking for a rebound.
Colorado (17-5-0) won for the eighth time in 10 road games with winning goaltender Seymon Varlamov stopping 19 shots. The victory helped the Avalanche keep pace with divisional co-favorites the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues in a now hotly contested race.
"It was a 60-minute effort, I thought it was one of the best games of the year," Roy said. "It was the best game of the year for us."
With all the marquee offensively skilled players in the Colorado lineup, Roy's defensive scheme has been a major reason for their resurgence. The Avalanche limited the Kings to just a few quality chances and handed Los Angeles (15-6-1) its first shutout of the season. Scrivens stopped 32 of 33 Avalanche shots in the loss.
Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter had to scramble his lineup with injuries along the forward wall. He shifted Dustin Brown from his normal left wing spot to the opposite wing with his lineup short, but the changes weren't enough to stop the Kings from suffering their second consecutive overtime loss.
The makeshift lineup produced just 19 shots on goal in the game, the second lowest shot total of the season for Los Angeles, but Sutter was buoyed by Scrivens' strong work in the net.
"It doesn't matter who is in the goal, you need to have them give you a chance to win the game, he said. "We got that tonight."
Kopitar assessed the performance by referencing special teams and a bit of bad luck.
"We were good on the penalty kill, and have to create a bit more on the power play, he said. "In overtime, it was just a tough bounce."
The game was a tight checking, evenly played affair through one period with neither side able to break through on their power-play advantages -- two for Los Angeles and one for Colorado.
Scrivens made 16 saves in the middle stanza, with his best save being on Colorado winger P.A. Parenteau off a two-on-one rush with a sliding pad save.
Colorado killed off a four-minute penalty Mitchell to keep the game scoreless early in the third period. Varlamov's best save of the night was on Los Angeles rookie winger Tyler Toffoli five minutes into the final frame.
The Kings were able to preserve the scoreless tie by killing off two penalties in the final seven minutes of the third period. Los Angeles was limited to just four shot s on goal in the third with the majority of the play in their own end.
Los Angeles' best chance in overtime was in the first minute by Toffoli on a wraparound attempt.
NOTES: Colorado LW Gabriel Landeskog celebrated his 21th birthday Saturday. Landeskog became the youngest captain in NHL history on Sept. 4, 2012, and he's still its youngest captain. ... The Avalanche's 16-5-0 start through 21 games is best in franchise history. ... Colorado D Andre Benoit's career high three-point night registered in Thursday's win at Phoenix marked the first time an Avalanche defenseman recorded a three-point game since Ryan Wilson turned the trick Nov. 4, 2011, in Dallas. ... Kings RW Jeff Carter is practicing with the team but missed his 10th consecutive game with a lower-body injury. ... Saturday's game ends a three-game home stand for Los Angeles, seven of their next 10 games are on the road where they have a solid 7-3-1 record. ... Injuries continue for Los Angeles, they activated LW Kyle Clifford from injured reserve and placed RW/C Trevor Lewis on IR. RW Matt Frattin was a late scratch in favor of C Colin Fraser.