DENVER | The success on the ice quickly returned and so will Mikko Rantanen.
Another score — along with a big exhale — for the struggling Colorado Avalanche.
Rantanen scored two of Colorado’s franchise record-tying six second-period goals, Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots and the Avalanche routed the Los Angeles Kings 7-1 on Saturday.
Rantanen was sidelined in the third period with a lower-body injury. He’s among the NHL’s scoring leaders with 73 points.
“He’s all right,” captain Gabriel Landeskog confirmed. “It was a 7-0 game (when he left).”
Colorado had six goals in a period for the first time since March 3, 1999, at Florida. In addition to Rantanen, Landeskog, Tyson Barrie, Sheldon Dries and Colin Wilson also scored during the decisive period.
Dries’ short-handed goal made it 5-0 and chased goalie Jonathan Quick. Carl Soderberg got things rolling with a goal in the first period as Colorado returned home in fine fashion following a 1-4 trip.
“We know how bad we’ve been lately, and that’s unacceptable for this group,” Barrie said. “We’re a team that has a lot of pride. We had a lot to prove tonight and I think we did that.”
Varlamov was on top of his game and cruising toward a shutout before Ilya Kovalchuk ended the bid with a power-play goal in the final period.
“He just looked steady and calm,” coach Jared Bednar said.
It wasn’t all positive for the Avalanche with veteran defenseman Erik Johnson taking a puck off his jaw early in the first period. He went to the locker room for treatment and was later ruled out. Bednar had no update after the game.
Everything was going Colorado’s way in the second, including a disallowed goal late when it was ruled that Los Angeles defenseman Derek Forbort kicked in the puck with his skate.
The Avalanche had a short-handed goal in the second after Matt Calvert grabbed a loose puck and raced in on Quick, who deflected the puck into the air. Dries was trailing on the play and batted it in with his stick. Los Angeles challenged the call for goaltender interference as Calvert landed on top of Quick. But the call was upheld. Quick gave way to Jack Campbell.
Campbell allowed goals to Rantanen and Wilson. It was the ninth time in Avalanche/Nordiques history the team has scored six goals in a period.
“It was just a pathetic second period,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “I really don’t even know what to say. Yeah, they played well. We just played poor. We left our goalies out to dry again. We’re sick of doing that. When we win games, we leave them out to dry. When we lose games, we leave them out to dry. It’s about time we play for them.”
Kings coach Willie Desjardins didn’t see this kind of performance coming. Well, maybe for the other side.
“If there was anything, Colorado was due,” said Desjardins, whose team went 1-1-1 on their three-game trip. “They hadn’t been on top of their game and they were going to come hard. They got a shorty, power play, so kind of everything that could go wrong with our team went wrong tonight.”
It was a productive afternoon for Barrie, Calvert and Nathan MacKinnon, who each had two assists. Colorado improved to 2-0-1 this season against the King and has outscored them 16-7.
Despite their recent slump, the Avs remain in the thick of playoff contention. Bednar considers that “miraculously” fortunate. The Avs are 3-8-2 over their last 13 games.
“We should be extremely fortunate,” Bednar said. “Count your blessings and roll up your sleeves and get to work and take advantage of it.”
NOTES: Quick had a 2.15 goals-against mark against Colorado going into Saturday. … The contest was part of a doubleheader with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets playing at night. It’s the first Avalanche-Nuggets doubleheader at Pepsi Center since April 8, 2006. … Colorado kicked off a five-game homestand that’s interrupted by the NHL All-Star Game and the team’s bye week.
Kings: Host St. Louis on Monday.
Avalanche: Host Nashville on Monday.