Early in the third period of a tie game against the Los Angeles Kings, center Lars Eller won a crucial faceoff back to defenseman Brad Hunt, who re-entered the lineup because of an illness to Bowen Byram. The 34-year-old Hunt quickly fired a one-timer that deflected off a stick before beating Kings goalie Pheonix Copley to give the Avalanche a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the way.

It was one of four goals scored by Colorado’s depth players, who carried the weight in a 4-3 victory over L.A. at Crypto.com Arena. Forward Denis Malgin had two goals and Alex Newhook broke out of a 20-game goal-scoring drought with a tally of his own. For Hunt, it was his fourth of the season — all of which have been scored after the new year.

Winners of four straight, the Avalanche (48-24-6, 102 points) are back in first place in the Central Division. They are tied with the Dallas Stars and have a two-point advantage over the Minnesota Wild in points. Colorado has a game in hand on both teams and will take on the lowly Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on Sunday to close out a four-game California road trip. It’ll be an opportunity to reach a franchise record for consecutive road wins. The victory over the Kings was the Avs’ ninth straight away from home. They also set a franchise record with 27 road wins.

Goalie Alexandar Georgiev was spectacular for the Avalanche. Colorado was outshot 18-4 in the first and 32-11 through 40 minutes. Despite getting a 2-0 lead, the teams were tied 2-2 entering the third. The Avs outshot L.A. 12-9 in the final frame, which included Hunt’s goal and Malgin’s game-winner. Georgiev finished the night with 38 saves — none bigger than a shot from Adrian Kempe in the final minutes that knocked Georgiev’s helmet off.

Georgiev has 38 wins, second to Boston’s Linus Ullmark (39) for most in the NHL. The victory over the Kings means Colorado has now defeated every Western Conference opponent with four games to spare before the playoffs begin.

Finally returning from an injury, backup goalie Pavel Francouz is expected to get the nod in Anaheim on Sunday. It’ll be his first game since Feb. 7 in Pittsburgh.

Cogliano hits Kempe up high

In the final seconds of regulation, Andrew Cogliano was handed a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head of Kempe. Cogliano and Kempe have a history that dates back to 2018 when the Avs’ veteran forward, who was playing with Anaheim at the time, was suspended for two games for making contact with Kempe’s head.

The Department of player safety — led by Cogliano’s former teammate George Paros — noted in its suspension video back then that Cogliano delivered a “high, forceful check” on Kempe a “full second” after the Kings forward had sent the puck to his teammate. The suspension was highly controversial at the time as it put an end to an 830-game ironman streak that began when Cogliano entered the league in 2007 with the Edmonton Oilers.

At the time, Keith Yandle and Phil Kessel — the two current Ironman leaders — had not yet reached 700 games. Yandle’s streak ended last year at 989 games and Kessel’s active streak eclipsed 1000 games in November. Cogliano holds the sixth-longest streak in NHL history.

It’s unclear at this time if Cogliano will face supplemental discipline for his hit on Saturday.