DENVER — One way to stop the Avalanche’s offensive flare is to play them as aggressively as the Los Angeles Kings did on Thursday. L.A. deployed a strong defensive system where it held the blueline well, got sticks in lanes, and ultimately held the Avs from cleanly entering the offensive zone on a number of occasions.

It was the 1-3-1 neutral zone trap in its most perfect form for two periods. When Colorado was finally able to penetrate the zone, it was too late. The Avalanche were defeated 5-2 at Ball Arena, falling to 1-3-1 in their last five games following a six-game winning streak.

“We know they’re a stingy team defensively, we have to be the same way or you’re not going to win,” head coach Jared Bednar said.

Forwards Evan Rodrigues and Nathan MacKinnon scored for the Avs, who trail the Minnesota Wild by five points with two games in hand for second place in the Central Division.

It was a relatively slow opening period outside of the Kings’ two goals. On the first tally, Anze Kopitar and teammate Adrian Kempe challenged Colorado’s Devon Toews on a 2-on-1. Kopitar found Kempe, who was able to easily beat goalie Alexandar Georgiev to make it 1-0 at 8:37. Later in the frame, the Kings capitalized on a hardworking forecheck in the Avs zone. The play ended with forward Gabriel Vilardi firing a wicked wrister past Georgiev from a tight angle. He had little to shoot at but squeaked it by to make it 2-0.

“You’d like to see Georgi have it,” Bednar said of the second goal. “We’re in pretty good spots, we’re probably a foot off cutting that pass in a swarm down low and they win the battle. Get it to (Vilardi) and he makes a great shot.”

Colorado had both penalties in the opening frame but did a great job limiting L.A.’s chances. Neither team had a power-play goal until MacKinnon’s tally. The Avs were 1-for-3 on the power play but held L.A. off the board on three opportunities.

After the first unsuccessful power play for the Avs, the unit continued to press and was rewarded for their hard work. Defenseman Samuel Girard received a pass from Alex Newhook and fired it on goal. Screening the goalie in front, Rodrigues got a stick on it to redirect it past goalie Joonas Korpisalo. Rodrigues’ 13th of the season was his second in four games and just his fourth point since the All-Star break. Coach Jared Bednar said following morning skate that the second-line left wing spot is Rodrigues’ to lose, and challenged the forward to step up his production.

The goal was the exact type of play that was needed to get one past the Kings’ defense.

“They have the best defensive metrics in the league,” Bednar said. “So when you break them down and you get in a shooting area, you got to shoot it and you got to be able to go win a battle at the net front in order to create scoring chances and we saw that tonight.”

An eventful start to the third period began with a quick tally from Kempe, building the Kings’ lead back to two goals. But moments later, a penalty on Kempe led to MacKinnon’s power-play goal The Avs’ top center fired home a wrister to make it 3-2, extending his home goal-scoring streak to nine games and point streak to 15. MacKinnon has 14 goals in 15 games since the All-Star break.

It was a tough night for MacKinnon outside of his goal. He shot the puck wide on a breakaway when it was 2-1 and didn’t have many clean entries to generate until late in the game. His goal didn’t prove to have the jump the Avalanche were hoping for. Forward Lars Eller lost a faceoff deep in Colorado’s zone and L.A. took advantage thanks to a redirect from Phillip Danault.

“I thought we actually created a fair amount of chances. Just bad reads,” MacKinnon said. “Every mistake felt like they just capitalized on. It was a weird game.”

Georgiev held his own for a majority of the night. He made a number of great stops, including a rebound kick save and a breakaway save on the power play in the second period when it was 2-1. He finished with 26 saves as the Avs were outshot 31-30.