The Avalanche needed one goal in regulation to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 in a shootout on Saturday.
Colorado (37-18-7) scored two goals in a two-game California swing but won both games and returns home trailing the St. Louis Blues by one point for first in the Western Conference with a game in hand.
Joonas Donskoi scored the lone shootout goal in the third round after defenseman Ryan Graves tallied the game-tying goal late in the second period.
Colorado was 0-for-1 in shootouts heading into this game. Topline forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Gabe Landeskog were stopped by Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick before Donskoi scored to win the game. The Kings were held without a goal in the shootout as Pavel Francouz stopped Anze Kopitar, Martin Frk and Gabe Vilardi.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead early in the first period on a penalty shot. Austin Wagner was sprung in on a breakaway but his opportunity was impeded by Nikita Zadorov, who hooked the Kings forward on the breakaway. Wagner was awarded a rare penalty shot and scored.
Francouz finished the night with 21 saves, including five in the overtime period. Francouz has won his last three starts, surrendering two goals.
Injuries up front have led to a stingier Avalanche defense. Ever since Colorado saw Mikko Rantanen go down to injury against Tampa Bay, the Avs have tightened up defensively to win three straight games. Colorado defeated the New York Islanders 3-1, conceding the only goal late in the third period. The Avs followed that up with a 1-0 shutout win in Anaheim on Friday before Saturday’s victory in Los Angeles.
Speaking of forwards, Andre Burakovsky did not play. Burakovsky, who has been playing on the Avalanche’s top line in recent games, was held out of the game against the Kings due to illness. The Avs recalled Logan O’Connor from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League to slot into the lineup in his place.
The Avs will not practice again until after the trade deadline. Colorado is scheduled to have a day off on Monday, the same day the trade deadline will take effect (1 p.m. MST). Colorado will take the ice for practice on Tuesday, perhaps with new faces in the lineup, before hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.