The annual Frozen Fury game at Las Vegas' MGM grand is the highlight of the Avalanche's preseason. The event has grown more or less steadily every year since its inception and at least Frozen Fury XVII was if nothing else entertaining for the fans visiting from the Golden State.
The Avs played minus Captain Gabriel Landeskog (minor shoulder niggle) and Erik Johnson (resting) which was expected to have an impact, but even so, the result wasn't what the fans watching at home wanted.
Things got off to a pretty slow start at the MGM. The Kings had the advantage on shots, but no particularly lethal scoring chances. The Avalanche struggled to get the puck into Los Angeles' end, reminiscent of last year's struggles.
Dustin Brown finally opened up the scoring in P1, left uncontested in front of Reto Berra and in prime position to shovel in the game's first goal. Kyle Clifford scored the only other goal in P1 and it was a similar affair: a scramble of bodies in front of the net and whacking at the puck, which Clifford managed to bat in.
Toward the end of the period the Avs built some momentum and were playing with more cohesion, but they ran out of time before they could put anything together. At the first buzzer, the score was 2-0 Kings.
In the second period, the Kings continued their dominance over an Avalanche squad that struggled to even reach double digits on the shot counter.
The Kings' third goal came courtesy of a nifty little play by veteran centerman Trevor Lewis, who collected a pass and transitioned to a quick shot that telegraphed very little to Berra.
LA got a couple more chances on the power play before P2 wound down, but one of the few things that seemed to be clicking tonight for the Avalanche was their penalty kill.
The Avs stoked their notorious third period fire and came out of the locker room looking improved in P3, but it was too little too late. Jonathan Quick was in regular season form for LA and when he's in the zone, he's a difficult goaltender to beat.
The lone goal of P3 was an impressive effort by Marian Gaborik, who fell to his knees behind the Avalanche net but didn't give up. Sweeping up the puck, Gaborik opted to shoot kneeling rather than pass and somehow roofed the puck both up and backwards, whipping it over Berra's blocker hand lacrosse style.
Quick made a few impressive stops as the final period of play wound down, shutting the door on the struggling Avalanche.
Final score: 4-0 Los Angeles Kings.
Preseason Game 6
MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada
1. Jonathan Quick (LAK) 15 save shutout
2. Dustin Brown (LAK) GWG, 3 SOG
3. Marian Gaborik (LAK) lacrosse goal, 4 SOG
Play of the Game:
Marian Gaborik's third period goal was just the sort of fun, wacky highlight that is entertaining in the preseason without the sting factor of "we're getting scored on in the SportCenter Top 10 again" in the regular season.
Gaborik, scrambling on his knees, somehow corralled the puck and roofed it not only up, but inward over Berra's blocker from a truly impressive angle.
Though it wasn't flashy, Trevor Lewis' second period goal was the sort of subtly skilled hockey play that makes him an asset to the Kings. He used Barrie as a screen, swept up the puck, and shot all in the same motion. When done well, that usage of body language can fool even an elite goaltender.
The Avs kept at it, but the goal that put them down 3-0 changed the tempo of the game.
By the Numbers:
The NHL did not have stat keepers at this game and every single media outlet covering the game recorded a different shot total. Just goes to show the importance of standardized statkeeping!
Quote of the Night:
Coach Patrick Roy had some words about the Avalanche's roster, which has been whittled down to nearly opening night size. Two cuts remain after tonight's final preseason game. The decision of whether to sign PTO players Jack Skille and Curtis Glencross must also be made soon.
"That is what we love about it," Roy said of the roster cuts on Wednesday. "We're going to have some interesting decisions to make in the next few days, but we'll go from there."