Avalanche enforcer Jim Cummins had a different kind of three-fer, and his third fighting penalty proved costly to the Avs.
Sakic scored the tying goal with 12:49 remaining and rookie Philippe Sauve made 34 saves as the Avalanche tied the Los Angeles Kings 3-3 Saturday night. Sakic has scored Colorado's last five goals, and he has nine in 12 games.
"You just get hot sometimes," said Sakic, an 11-time All-Star.
"Nobody stays hot for 82 games. I had some trouble scoring early
in the season, but now the goals are coming."
Cummins and Kings enforcer Kip Brennan fought each other in each
of the first two periods, with Brennan winning both. Cummins wanted
to go a third time with Brennan at 15:40 of the second but threw
all of the punches as Brennan covered up -- and was the only one
sent to the penalty box.
"I didn't have to prove anything else by fighting him again, so
I just tried to benefit the team,' said Brennan, who missed the
previous nine games because of a bruised leg. "It was kind of a
selfish move on his part. It wasn't really a team penalty that he
took, but I think he wanted to redeem himself and go out there and
prove something to his coach, or whatever."
Cummins' instigator penalty and fighting major gave the Kings
seven minutes with the advantage, but they scored on only one of
their seven shots.
"We'll take that any day," Colorado defenseman Rob Blake said.
"It was a tough penalty kill, but Jimmy's battled for us all year,
so we returned a couple of favors for him there."
Martin Straka split the defense and beat Sauve with a short
backhander after a turnover by the Avalanche in the neutral zone.
But Sakic scored his third of the night and 14th this season,
beating Cristobal Huet from the slot to pull the Avalanche even.
"We got caught in a poor line change," Kings coach Andy Murray
said. "The guys were tired and they tried to come off, but they
can't change when the puck is at center ice. Our defensemen didn't
get it out, and we ended up paying the price."
Eric Belanger and Joe Corvo also scored for the Kings, who
extended their home unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2). Blake and
Milan Hejduk had two assists apiece for the Avalanche, winless in
five games (0-2-3).
Roman Cechmanek, who sat out the previous three games because of
an injured left hip, was replaced by Huet at the start of the
second period after giving up two goals on six shots and
aggravating the injury. Huet stopped 12 of 13 shots.
Luc Robitaille received two penalties at 10:45 of the period,
and the Avalanche converted both into goals to take a 2-1 lead.
Sakic scored the first one from the right of the crease.
He connected again on Colorado's next shot, scoring from the
slot off a pass from Blake. But the Kings tied it less than two
minutes later when Ziggy Palffy threw the puck out from behind the
net and Corvo beat Sauve.
The game began on a high note for the Kings as Belanger
scored on a wrist shot from the slot.
Palffy was stopped on a breakaway for the second straight
game; Sauve denied him in the second period. ... Sauve hasn't
allowed more than three goals in any of his six starts since giving
up five at Edmonton in his NHL debut Oct. 18. ... Avalanche
defensemen have accounted for more than one-third of the team's 980
shots on net. ... Sakic has 28 goals and 59 points in 49 career
games against the Kings. He has not gone back-to-back games without
a point since a four-game drought Oct. 21-26. ... Despite
having future Hall of Famer Patrick Roy in net during the previous
eight seasons, the Avalanche franchise never has shut out the Kings
at Los Angeles in 42 tries.