The home struggles of the Colorado Avalanche have been a growing concern for the team as they embark on their quest to return to the playoffs and their 2016 opener saw a 4-0 shutout to a bad Calgary Flames team only serve to enhance the worries over the team's play at home. With the visiting Los Angeles Kings, winners of eight of their last nine against Colorado, in Denver riding a five game winning streak the uphill climb was evident from the opening faceoff.
Colorado was up to the task early on as a scoreless first period saw the Avalanche outshoot Los Angeles 10-7 and even though they were 0-for-2 on the power play they had a number of quality scoring chances but were consistently turned away by Kings netminder Jhonas Enroth.
A downright dominant performance from the John Mitchell-centered fourth line would draw a penalty as their puck movement was too much for the Kings to handle and Tyson Barrie would blast home a perfect slap shot from the blue line past Enroth to give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead 6:34 into the second.
Despite the Avalanche dominating the Kings through much of the second period, Semyon Varlamov's poor puckhandling skills would come back to haunt the Avalanche as he needlessly put a puck into the netting for a Delay of Game penalty. Tyler Toffoli would capitalize on the opportunity on a one-timer that beat Varlamov blocker-side to make it 1-1.
Not looking to let their mojo get them down, the Avs would race down the ice just minutes later and Barrie would take a drop pass from Andreas Martinsen and beat Enroth for the second time to make it 2-1 Avalanche.
Colorado would take the 2-1 lead into the start of the third but all was not roses as Avs defenseman Erik Johnson was injured early in the second period and ruled out with a "lower body injury" after the second period.
The Avalanche began the third period on the power play and Barrie's bid for a hat trick was met with the cruel ping of the post before winding up and firing again and getting a tip from Matt Duchene past Enroth to give the Avs a 3-1 lead just 1:23 into the third.
Jarome Iginla would get goal number 600 off the skate of a Kings defenseman, becoming just the 19th player in NHL history to score 600 career goals. The game would take a few moments to commemorate the milestone and Matt Duchene retrieved the puck from the net for Iginla.
The Kings would never mount a proper comeback attempt and the Avalanche polished off a 4-1 victory with relative ease.
Tyson Barrie - 2 goals, 2 assists
Jarome Iginla - 1 goal, 600th of his career
Semyon Varlamov - 30 saves
PLAY OF THE GAME
Easiest decision I'll make this year. Iginla's 600th career goal.
A team that has struggled to finish off clubs at home in the third period, Colorado came out on the power play and took advantage by scoring to push it to 3-1, giving them confidence and breathing room.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"Tonight, our focus was sharp. We were really sharp tonight. I really thought we did what we wanted to do." -Head Coach Patrick Roy
The win moves the Avalanche back within four points of the Nashville Predators, who currently own the final playoff spot in Western Conference, and gives them a three point lead on the Winnipeg Jets for sixth place in the Central Division.
Colorado continues their season-high five game homestand as they host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, January 6. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00PM MST.