DENVER — The Kings, goaltender Kelly Hrudey in particular, weren't about to go through the motions in their season finale Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche. They wanted to end the year knowing they could play with a playoff team.
"I'm very proud of the way the guys battled when they very easily could have done otherwise," King Coach Larry Robinson said after a 5-4 overtime victory over the Avalanche. "To play the way we did and come up with a win against a pretty good hockey team is a good omen and a good way for us to start off next year."
For Hrudey (7-15-10), the victory was particularly satisfying since it saved him from going the entire season without winning a game on the road.
Yanic Perreault scored twice, including the game-winner at 4:12 of overtime.
"We played as if the game had meaning, and it felt good to score that last goal," Perreault said. "It is going to be a long summer not having gotten into the playoffs. This takes away some of the bad taste."
Dimitri Khristich also scored twice for the Kings, who finished at 24-40-18.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for the Pacific Division-champion Avalanche, which got two goals from Chris Simon and had won nine of its last 13.
Colorado opens the playoffs at home against the Vancouver Canucks.
"I think a lot of the guys had other things on their minds other than the Los Angeles Kings," Avalanche Coach Marc Crawford said.
Said Simon: "We didn't play well. Maybe we can get that out of our system. Hopefully, we'll get focused now."