Heartbreaking loss = turning point.
Such a distinctive moment doesn't surface often, but that's what transpired when the Kings lost a game in the final five seconds two weeks ago at Detroit.
Slumping shoulders? Hardly.
The Kings have been surging since that dreary afternoon, winning five of their last six and their last three games. Saturday's rare matinee offering was the latest evidence of the turning-point theory as the Kings defeated Colorado, 4-1, at Staples Center
They seized control with a goal in the first minute by captain Dustin Brown and built on that foundation with goals from Jeff Carter, Trevor Lewis and Anze Kopitar. Then they proceeded to smother the Avalanche in the third period. Carter, who has a team-leading nine goals, has scored five goals in the last six games and Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 23 saves.
"It's a start, yeah," Carter said. "We're moving in the right direction. We're getting points and starting to play some pretty full games. We still have some areas we have to improve on."
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said of Carter: "He's been the best player since our first day of training camp."
Brown's goal came 58 seconds into the game, a sharp one-timer, and then Carter's wrist shot from the high slot made it 2-0 at 14:22. Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov looked shaky early as he gave up two goals on the Kings' first four shots.
Returning for the Avalanche was dynamic forward Gabriel Landeskog, who had missed 11 games because of a concussion, and he assisted on Colorado's lone goal.
The biggest momentum swing came after the Avalanche cut the Kings' lead to 2-1 with that power-play goal just 1:16 into the second period. The Kings (8-6-2) responded with their first short-handed goal of the season. Lewis got the goal, at 2:51, but the big play starting it off actually came in the Kings' end with a blocked shot by center Jarret Stoll.
Stoll spoke about confidence, personal and teamwide, saying said the attitude shifted after the defeat at Detroit.
"We obviously lost a tough one in Detroit, but I think it brought our team a different kind of confidence we didn't have so far this year," Stoll said.
Kopitar, who, with a goal and an assist, had his first multi-point game since Jan. 26 at Phoenix, concurred with his teammate.
"We outplayed them," he said of the 3-2 loss to the Red Wings. "We didn't get rewarded, but then the next night we had a big game in St. Louis against a good team and we pulled it off. I think that gave us that confidence and pushed us over the hump and now we've been playing some good hockey. Because we've had a little bit of slow start we've got to catch up and we've got to continue playing like this."
The reunited line of Brown-Kopitar-Justin Williams was responsible for four points. Brown was a force all afternoon, recording an impressive nine hits.
His improvement has been visible in recent days.
"Scoring some goals helps too and now we're trying to get Willy [Williams] to score a few too, so he can jump-start it," Kopitar said. "Every time we go into the game, we're focusing on our play and we want to play in the offensive zone. That's where we do the most damage and the last couple of couple of games we've done that pretty good. We've got to build on this and keep it going."
An underlying reason for the Kings' improvement has been the goalies — Quick and Jonathan Bernier, who has won his last three starts.
"The competition between our goaltenders the last seven games has been significant to our team's success," Sutter said. "Both guys are playing really well and we want them both to play really well to give us a chance to be a playoff team."