DENVER (AP) — Anze Kopitar became the first Kings player with a four-goal game since 1993, Jonathan Quick stopped 29 shots and Los Angeles picked up another valuable road win by cruising past the Colorado Avalanche 7-1 on Thursday night.
Kopitar was so efficient that he picked up his fourth career hat trick with 7:33 remaining in the second period. He added another goal early in the third. This was the first four-goal game by a Kings player since Luc Robitaille accomplished the feat on Nov. 25, 1993, at Quebec.
Tobias Rieder had two goals and Jake Muzzin scored his first goal since Feb. 3 for the Kings, who surpassed Anaheim for the third spot in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles improved to 6-0-2 over its last eight road games.
Quick allowed an early goal to Mikko Rantanen and was stellar after that in a game that had a playoff feel. Well, at least early, before the Kings reeled off seven unanswered goals.
The Kings beat an Avalanche team that’s 15-3-1 in its last 19 games on home ice. Colorado remains in a wild-card spot with eight games remaining.
Semyon Varlamov showed signs of fatigue in giving up five goals before being replaced by backup Jonathan Bernier in the second period. Varlamov has appeared in 19 straight games (16 starts) with Bernier sidelined by a concussion. Bernier returned Thursday and allowed two goals.
It’s the third time this season the Avs have allowed seven goals.
Trailing 3-1, Nathan MacKinnon clanged one off the crossbar seconds into the second period. Moments later, Rieder found himself on a breakaway and beat Varlamov with a wrist shot.
That all but wrapped things up.
Kopitar recorded his first hat trick since Feb. 12, 2016, with a backhander in the second period. Some of the fans at the Pepsi Center littered the ice with hats. He wasn’t done there, though, scoring his fourth on a breakaway.
It was certainly the Kopitar Show in the first period, with the Avalanche struggling to cover him. At 30, the Kings captain is having his best statistical season with 86 points.
Colorado took a 1-0 lead 3:33 into the game when Gabriel Landeskog kicked a sliding puck over to Rantanen, who rocketed it into the net. The advantage lasted all of 55 seconds.
MacKinnon had an assist to extend his point streak to a career-best 14 games. It was also his 92nd point of the season, the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 100 in 2006-07.
NOTES: Quick was credited with his fourth assist of the season on Rieder’s goal. … Nate Thompson and Dustin Brown each had two assists. … Avs F Carl Soderberg missed a second straight game with an illness. … D Tyson Barrie had his 11-game point streak snapped. … Rantanen and MacKinnon both have 21 points in March, the most in the NHL.
Kings: Finish a four-game trip on Saturday in Edmonton.
Avalanche: Host Vegas on Saturday.
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