DENVER (AP) — J.T. Compher scored three goals for his first career hat trick to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.
The victory kept the Avalanche in the hunt for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage throughout the postseason. Colorado clinched home ice for the first round and could finish first overall in the NHL by beating Los Angeles again Thursday night.
“J.T. Compher had himself a night and it turned out to be a good victory for us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We’ll put it away and move on for tomorrow.”
A win would give Colorado 82 points, tied with West Division rival Vegas, but the Avalanche hold the tiebreaker of regulation wins. The Golden Knights beat San Jose 6-0 on Wednesday night. If Colorado doesn’t earn two points, it will open the playoffs against Minnesota.
“Our goal from training camp was to win the league and to win the Presidents’ Trophy to make sure we have home ice all the way through the playoffs,” Gabriel Landeskog said. “We’ve put ourselves in position to win a hockey game tomorrow. To do that would be a big step in the right direction and then take on the next challenge after that.”
Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves for his seventh shutout of the season and 18th of his career. Landeskog scored his 20th goal, the eighth time he’s reached the mark, and added an assist. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Joonas Donskoi also scored, and Mikko Rantanen had three assists.
The Avalanche scored three goals in a span of 4 minutes, 32 seconds, including one by Compher, at the end of the first period.
Compher got his second goal on a feed from Devon Toews in the second period. He completed the hat trick with his 10th goal at 11:47 of the second period.
“It’s pretty cool, it’s exciting to get three in a game when we’re pushing toward the end of the season and doing it at home, but all three goals were by great plays by teammates,” Compher said. “Great job by those guys made it easy for me.”
The Kings managed just three shots in the first period and 11 through the first 40 minutes. Los Angeles has lost five straight to Colorado and six of seven overall.
“We need an effort, we need a group of guys that actually care about finishing the season — individual pride,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s not too much to ask a group to work for 60 minutes. We might not have the skill, we may not have the quality of team that our opponent has tonight and the same group tomorrow night. We have a lot more in us than we showed, so it’s pretty disappointing.”
The Avalanche and Denver Nuggets announced that the state of Colorado will allow up to 7,750 fans at Ball Arena for upcoming playoff games. The recent limit was 4,050 and the new total will equal 42.3 percent of the fan capacity for hockey games.
“We’re super happy to hear the news,” Landeskog said. “The 4,000 we have in here now, it sounds a lot more than 4,000. We’re excited to almost double that.”
NOTES: Bednar said after Wednesday’s morning skate that Nathan MacKinnon was day to day with his undisclosed injury. Bednar said MacKinnon won’t play Thursday. He is expected to be ready for the start of the playoffs. … Los Angeles reassigned forward Quinton Byfield to Ontario of the AHL. Byfield had been with the taxi squad. … Avalanche D Samuel Girard, who turned 23 Wednesday, returned after missing six games with a lower-body injury.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports