AIR FORCE ACADEMY — Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 43,574 at Falcon Stadium, the Avalanche suffered perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season, falling 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings in the final minute Saturday.

Colorado (36-18-6) lost starting goaltender Philipp Grubauer early in the third period and surrendered two goals in the final 55 seconds. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli scored all three goals for the visiting team to record the first hat-trick in an NHL outdoor game.

“It would’ve been nice to see the Kings play from behind,” Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon said. “They were pretty passive after they got the lead. We blew a point, at least. I liked our chances in overtime. I think if we were more ready to bury those early—I had a couple of chances to bury some myself. It was just frustrating.”

A faceoff between Kings center Anze Kopitar and Colorado’s J.T. Compher ended up being the turning point. Kopitar won the draw clean to Toffoli. After whiffing on his first shot, Toffoli picked up his own rebound and fired it past Francouz with 54 seconds remaining in regulation.

Toffoli added an empty-netter 50 seconds later to complete the hat trick.

Colorado, which had 13 of the games 14 shots, was stymied by Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in the early going. After weathering the story, the Kings scored the games’ first goal as Toffoli was able to beat Grubauer off a rebound in tight to make it 1-0.

The Avalanche’s lone goal was scored by Sam Girard late in the second period to tie the game through 40 minutes.

Pavel Francouz replaced Grubauer for the Avalanche with 17:33 remaining. He faced seven shots in the losing effort and could be the starter Monday against Tampa Bay.

“Gruby is lower body,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said about his starting goalie’s injury. “The fact that he left the game tonight tells me there is certainly a possibility he could miss games. They were still looking at him when we came to the room. I’m sure we’ll check him out again tomorrow.”

The loss was frustrating for Colorado in many ways. Aside from losing their starting goaltender and forward Matt Calvert (lower-body) to injury, Avalanche had an opportunity to jump into first place in the Western Conference with a victory. Instead, Colorado lost to the worst team in the Western Conference and fell to third place in the Central Division.

The frustration piled on for Colorado as the game progressed. The Avalanche had two chances on the power play—both vital opportunities to turn the game around. But on both occasions, the Avs took a penalty shortly thereafter and nullified the man-advantage. Colorado’s first power-play lasted three seconds, and the second 17 seconds.

“It was frustrating. Right off the faceoff we take one three seconds in. And then the first breakout,” Bednar said. “So we nullify what should be two really good opportunities to even the game or end the game. Those are things we certainly would like to have back.”

MacKinnon added: “It sucked … I don’t know, those calls could have gone either way. The only time they called penalties were right after we got power plays so it was just weird how that worked out.”


Avs Mikko Rantanen recorded an assist on the goal from Girard. … MacKinnon and defenseman Erik Johnson led the Avalanche with five shots, each. … Colorado outshot Los Angeles 33-22. … Avs defenseman Cale Makar played a game-high 22:13. … Country music star Sam Hunt performed for the audience during the first intermission.

Three Stars

  1. Tyler Toffoli: His hat-trick, the first in an NHL outdoor game, gives him 18 goals on the season.
  2. Jonathan Quick: Finished with 32 saves, including 13 in the first 10:15 of the first period. Quick was winless in eight games (0-7-1) before Saturday’s performance.
  3. Anze Kopitar: Aside from his crucial faceoff win, Kopitar assisted on both goals in the final minute.

Next up

Colorado hosts the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of a five-game homestand on Monday. The Lightning have won 10 straight games and are 21-2-1 in their past 24 games.