The Los Angeles Kings jumped on the Colorado Avalanche early and never took their foot off the gas in a 5-2 win on Tuesday night in Denver.

The Avalanche (30-26-11) were without regular starter Semyon Varlamov, who aggravated his groin while making his 22nd consecutive start on Sunday in Minnesota.

Calvin Pickard – who was called up from the Lake Erie Monsters for the fifth time this season on Monday – made his 13th start in relief of Varlamov, but the 22-year-old didn’t last long on this evening.

The Kings (32-21-13) scored three goals on their first eight shots and chased Pickard at 14:15 of the first frame. Reto Berra replaced Pickard and turned away 20 of the 22 shots he faced in just over two periods of work.

L.A. improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven matchups with Colorado. Jonathan Quick turned away 21 shots on the way to his fourth straight win over the Avalanche.

Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb had a huge night in the winning effort. The 24-year-old exploded with a career-high three-point game that included the game-winning goal.

Marion Gaborik, Jeff Carter and McNabb tallied first period goals for the Kings. Gaborik’s power play marker ended a streak of 19 straight successful penalty kills by Colorado.

Gabriel Landeskog picked up an assist on Tyson Barrie’s first period goal. The Avalanche captain has been on fire down the stretch – registering 16 points in the last 13 contests.

Kyle Clifford scored a nifty one-handed rebound goal to extend the Kings’ lead to 4-1 at 15:03 of the second stanza.

The Avalanche pulled within two goals again when Alex Tanguay finished a pretty passing play at 8:27 of the third period.

But the Kings had an answer as Jake Muzzin reestablished their three-goal lead and put the nail in the Avs’ coffin just over a minute later with a one-timed bomb from the point.

“I thought that was a team loss for us,” Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said. “Deep inside everybody knows we didn’t play our best game. But we played against a team that played real well. They are healthier than us and this is a team that has playoff experience. You could tell this morning they were ready for us. They were coming to win a hockey game.”

The Avalanche will hope to have Varlamov back when they host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

Nathan is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheRealNatron.

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