Peter Mueller had the go-ahead goal in the fifth game of his inspirational comeback, Cody McLeod scored on a breakaway and Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 25 saves, leading the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick came up short on his 26th birthday after stopping 28 shots. Colorado's other goal was by Gabriel Landeskog on a power play with 1:57 to play. The Kings have scored fewer than three goals in 20 of Quick's 21 losses this season, including overtimes and shootouts.
The regulation loss was only the second by the Kings in 16 games since Darryl Sutter replaced Terry Murray as coach (8-2-6). The other one was a 1-0 defeat against Columbus in which Quick a season-low 18 shots.
Mueller put the Avalanche ahead 2-1 with 1:05 left in the second, tipping in a 45-foot wrist shot from the slot by T.J. Galiardi for his third goal since returning from a career-threatening concussion that had sidelined him since April 4, 2010. Mueller scored Colorado's first two goals Wednesday night in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers.
The Avalanche had a 10-3 advantage in shots on net when Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner received a double-minor at 12:02 of the first period for cutting Cody McLeod with a high stick. But the Kings' vaunted penalty-killing unit kept the puck away from Quick while Penner was in the box, and Kyle Quincey's interference infraction nullified the final 49 seconds of the 4-minute power play. In fact, Colorado didn't get another shot the rest of the period.
The Kings weren't doing any better in that department, getting only one shot on net over the final 15:21 of the opening period. They didn't get another one until Giguere stopped Dustin Brown's point-blank attempt from 10 feet in the left circle and Anze Kopitar converted the rebound into a wide-open net at 5:34 of the second for his team-high 15th goal.
Colorado tied it at 13:35 of the second with McLeod's third goal of the season. Defenseman Stefan Eliott was skating with the puck about 15 feet from his own blue line when he spotted McLeod breaking toward the Kings' line and hit him with a perfect tape-to-tape pass as he entered the zone a step ahead of defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. Quick backed up and McLeod stuffed the puck between his pads before crashing into the net.
Notes: This was the third time Quick has played on his birthday in the NHL. In 2010, he beat Buffalo 4-3 in a shootout at Staples Center with 26 saves. In 2009 at Colorado, he beat the Avalanche 6-5 with 36 saves. No goalie has ever had a shutout on his birthday in a Kings uniform. ... Ten of Mueller's 51 NHL goals have been game-winners. He has a career-best 22 as a rookie in 2007-08 with Phoenix. ... The Avalanche are 6 for 46 on the power play over their last 17 games. They came in with a league-best 25.0 power play percentage on the road (17 for 68). ... D Jan Hejda was back in Colorado lineup after missing Wednesday's 4-3 overtime win at San Jose. He hit the left post with a 60-foot slap shot from the left point with 9:20 left in the first period. ... The Kopitar-Brown-Justin Williams line has combined for 10 goals and 13 assists over the Kings' last seven games.