LOS ANGELES (AP) — Alec Martinez started a celebration when his shot ricocheted in and out of the Colorado net, only to see the referee shake his head.
So the Los Angeles defenseman collected the puck, dodged the defense and popped it in the net again.
Martinez and the Kings are determined to do whatever it takes to get back to the postseason, even if it takes scoring twice on the same play.
Martinez scored the tiebreaking goal, Marian Gaborik added his 26th goal and the Kings kept pace in the playoff hunt with a 3-1 victory over the Avalanche on Saturday night.
Martinez ended his 13-game goal drought since Jan. 17 in unique fashion, putting the puck past Semyon Varlamov twice in succession. The first shot was tough to see for fans and the officials alike, but the second left no doubt about a key goal by the Kings’ postseason hero.
“I thought the first one went in, but I looked at the ref, and he was shaking his head,” Martinez said. “So I just tried to put it in again, just for good measure, I guess.”
Dwight King scored in the first period, and Jonathan Quick had to make only nine saves for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who have won five of seven to stay even with Winnipeg for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Wins by the Jets and the Kings kept the clubs even at 92 points apiece with four games to play, but Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker edge in non-shootout victories.
Los Angeles also is pursuing Calgary, which began the night with a one-point lead on the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division. The Kings have a game in hand on the Flames, and the teams meet Thursday in Calgary.
“We know what’s at stake,” Martinez said. “A lot of us have been through a very similar situation before, so you can tap into that experience. Every season has its own story, and it’s a little unique. Obviously, this is really down to crunch time, but I’m really confident in the group that we have here. We all know that we can do it.”
Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Avalanche, who were eliminated from playoff contention earlier Saturday when Winnipeg beat Vancouver. Colorado has lost three of four.
Varlamov stopped 23 shots for the Avalanche, whose 10 shots tied a franchise-record low for a Kings opponent. Colorado also matched the lowest shot total by an NHL team this season: Buffalo had two 10-shot games earlier in the season.
Colorado coach Patrick Roy was perplexed by the Staples Center off-ice officials’ definition of a shot, but didn’t dwell on a statistical oddity.
“I guess every rink has their own way to count the shots,” Roy said. “I’m not making a big deal of the number of shots. I was more interested in our defense than our scoring chances, and I thought we defended pretty well.”
Colorado managed just five shots in the first 38 minutes and only three in the third period despite pressing for a tying goal before Gaborik’s score with 1:56 to play.
Colorado has missed the postseason four times in the past five seasons, and hasn’t won a playoff round since 2008. Although a 10-13-8 start to this season created a hole too deep to escape, the Avs believe their late-season play will carry over well into the fall.
“Our start was not good, no matter how well we played down the stretch,” forward Matt Duchene said. “It’s too much to make up for, so we learned a good lesson there. We’ve become a better team throughout, but it’s disappointing to have a start like that, and now we know better when we move forward.”
Jeff Carter and Robyn Regehr had two assists apiece for the Kings. No matter how many shots actually counted, Los Angeles gave a strong defensive effort in its fifth consecutive victory over the Avalanche, sweeping the three-game season series.
NOTES: The Kings also allowed just 10 shots by San Jose on Jan. 11, 1994. … Regehr has a two-game points streak for just the second time since Feb. 2011. … Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and Drew Barrymore attended the game.
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