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Peter Budaj helps Los Angeles Kings top Colorado Avalanche to snap 3-game skid

By
Michael Kelly, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Kings' goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 24 shots and got some fortunate bounces against his former team as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Tuesday night. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Los Angeles Kings' goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 24 shots and got some fortunate bounces against his former team as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Tuesday night. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

DENVER -- Peter Budaj has found a groove again -- and some luck.

Budaj stopped 24 shots and got some fortunate bounces against his former team as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-1 on Tuesday night.

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Tyler Toffoli and Trevor Lewis had goals to help Budaj win for the only the second time in seven starts.

Mikko Rantanen scored an unassisted goal, his 14th of the season, and Calvin Pickard had 30 saves for Colorado.

The Kings (29-26-4) snapped a three-game losing streak and gave coach Darryl Sutter his 215th victory with Los Angeles to tie Andy Murray atop the franchise list.

"Had some good teams, good players," Sutter said.

The Kings' recent slide dropped them out of a playoff position but Tuesday's victory kept them within two points of Calgary, which holds the second wild card spot. The Flames played one more game than Los Angeles, which has four games left with Calgary.

"We need to win some games and get a streak going so we can get into the playoffs, so we can be comfortable and not be waiting until the last game of the season," Toffoli said. "It was a big game for us."

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It was for Budaj, too, who struggled after playing well in place of the injured Jonathan Quick. Budaj allowed 19 goals in five games before the 1-0 loss to Anaheim on Sunday.

He carried that effort into Tuesday. He preserved a one-goal lead in the third with some big saves and a little fortune. Colorado hit several posts and missed open nets.

"I think they had two or three empty nets so we had a little puck luck," Sutter said. "He's going to thank a lot of different people but he's going to thank (the posts)."

Budaj, who played his first six NHL seasons with Colorado, stopped 11 shots in the third.

"I felt good," he said. "I tried to challenge, cut the angle and I was able to make good saves."

The Avalanche's disappointing season took another hit Monday when young defenseman Nikita Zadorov suffered a fractured ankle during practice and will miss the rest of the season. He is the second Colorado defenseman to suffer a broken bone in his leg as Erik Johnson broke his fibula in December and hasn't played since.

The loss of another player didn't impact Colorado's effort. The Avalanche (16-39-3) buzzed around Budaj in the third period but couldn't get the equalizer. They had chances early and Tyson Barrie hit the post at 14 minutes.

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"I hit one crossbar and one post and one yawning cage where it just hopped over," Gabriel Landeskog said. "We just weren't sharp enough around the net and it ended up costing us."

Pickard came off for an extra skater with 1:55 left but Colorado didn't score despite holding the puck in the Los Angeles end for most of the time.

After Rantanen gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the second period, the Kings rallied. Toffoli tied it at 3:18 when his shot went off Pickard and just crossed the line before he crashed into the crossbar.

Lewis gave the Kings a 2-1 lead midway through the second when he got behind the Avalanche defense and slid the puck from in close and by Pickard's short side at 9:32.

Rantanen continued his hot streak when he gave Colorado the early lead. He poked the puck away from Drew Doughty at the Los Angeles blue line, went in alone on Budaj and beat him high on the stick side at 32 seconds of the second period. It was his third straight game with a goal.

"Once we got a couple power plays we had some good movement, got some good looks coming off the goal line in the first period and that gave us a little bit of momentum," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said.

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NOTES:

-- Kings G Jonathan Quick, out with groin injury suffered on opening night, took some shots at Tuesday's morning skate.

-- Avalanche F Rene Bourque, who missed 13 of the last 15 games because of a head injury, is practicing while wearing a non-contact jersey.

-- Kings C Jordan Nolan missed every game in February with a muscle pull but is close to returning.

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