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Kings take advantage of another Avs meltdown

DENVER (AP) -- Craig Conroy was surprised to find himself with
the puck on his stick, in position to score the easy goal that gave
the Los Angeles Kings a come-from-behind victory.

Apparently, he hadn't seen much of the Colorado Avalanche
lately.

Conroy's flip past David Aebischer with 58 seconds left
Wednesday night gave the Kings a 5-4 win, and marked the second
time in a week that Aebischer and the Avalanche blew a three-goal
lead at home.

"You should win those games," Aebischer said. "Right now we
are a little short. We've lost games weirdly."

Down 4-1 midway through the second period, the Kings kept
plugging away, knowing that under the NHL's new, high-scoring
rules, no deficit is too big to overcome.

Still, it was hard to credit this one merely to a bunch of new
rules. Instead, Aebischer and Colorado's inattentive defense played
a big role.

Never were they worse than at the end.

Conroy's game-winner -- his first goal of the season -- came after
Aebischer went behind the net and stopped the puck for defenseman
Rob Blake.

Blake arrived late, mishandled the puck and instead of clearing
it and getting ready for overtime, Kings forward Alexander Frolov
got there and rifled a pass in front of the net to Conroy, who put
it by Aebischer from point-blank range.

Conroy said at first he didn't even plan on going to the goal
because he didn't think there would be a scoring chance.

"I noticed, all of a sudden, Frolov was in there first,"
Conroy said. "He saw me open in the slot and made a nice pass. I
think Aebischer would probably like to have that one back."

Less than a minute later, after the Avs pulled Aebischer and
couldn't convert on their desperate 6-on-5 opportunities, the Kings
mobbed goalie Mathieu Garon (17 saves) to celebrate their fifth win
in six games. And the 443rd consecutive sellout at Pepsi Center let
loose with boos.

The Avalanche finished 1-2-1 on their homestand, including a 5-4
loss to Nashville last Thursday after leading 3-0 early.

In that loss, Aebischer was guilty of a critical penalty that
led to the winning power-play goal for the Predators. On this
night, he was simply guilty of bad goaltending and victimized by
his team's sloppy play.

The Kings tied it with 24 seconds left in the second. The goal
came after the Avalanche turned it over in their own zone -- a
common sight during this homestand -- and Eric Belanger collected
the puck in the corner, lasered a pass across the crease to Sean
Avery, who squeezed the puck between Aebischer's skate and the
pipe.

"Goals four and five were unacceptable," Avalanche coach Joel
Quenneville said. "You don't give up goals in the last minute of
the period. And our play at the end of the game we were sloppy.
Really sloppy."

The loss ruined a two-goal night for Ian Laperriere, a
free-agent acquisition for Colorado this season after spending the
last decade with the Kings. He scored twice and Andrew Brunette had
a goal to give the Avs a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead after the
first period.

Joe Sakic scored his third goal of the season at the 6:35 mark
of the second to push the lead to three. But then the Kings began
their comeback.

"We have a team with a strong work ethic," Kings coach Andy
Murray said. "We weren't going to sit back no matter what the
score was. We had to force the issue."

This marked the first regular-season game on the ice for
Avalanche defenseman Brad May, who took a vicious shot on Mattias
Norstrom in the second period, charging him into the boards.

May is the former Vancouver player who infamously called for a
bounty to be put on the head of Avs forward Steve Moore before a
game in 2003. Todd Bertuzzi broke Moore's neck. May's offseason
signing with the Avalanche was not greeted warmly by fans. They
booed him every time he touched the puck early, but cheered him
after the hit, which only drew a two-minute,
unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.

"The hit on Norstrom was terrible," Belanger said. "That was
a hit from behind and May should be suspended for that. They really
[messed] that up."

Game notes
The Avalanche played without Fs Dan Hinote (back spasms)
and Milan Hejduk (knee). Hejduk has missed all seven games, but is
expected to return soon. ... With his goal, Avery extended his
scoring streak to four games.