The LA Kings couldn’t slow down the league-leading Avalanche, as Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar combined for nine points.

The LA Kings surrendered four goals within the first 11 minutes of the first period en route to a 9-3 loss in Colorado on Wednesday night.

Jonathan Quick made back-to-back starts for the first time in four years, but he allowed three goals on just ten shots before he was pulled.

Cal Petersen came on in relief and gave up a goal on the first shot he faced.

“We didn’t have anything, we can’t play that way against this team,” Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan said after the game.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel opened the scoring for the home team at the 2:56 mark of the first period. With the Avalanche establishing their presence in the Kings’ defensive zone, Aube-Kubel retrieved a loose puck off a rebound, turned around, and fired a shot through traffic that found the back of the net.

Thirty-nine seconds later, the Avalanche made it a 2-0 game on Valeri Nichushkin‘s feed in the slot before bringing it to the side of the net and backhanding it in for his 20th goal of the season.

That would be the story for the first period — and really the game — as Nathan MacKinnon made it a three-goal advantage just over 10 minutes into the opening frame. With Quick out and Petersen in, Aube-Kubel tallied his second goal of the game 41 seconds later to make it 4-0 Avalanche.

“Obviously, they came out strong, and we didn’t match the intensity,” Anze Kopitar said. “Next thing you know, we’re down 4-0. It’s obviously the start that we can’t afford, and that’s about it.

The Kings made a push in the second period, with Adrian Kempe getting the visitors on the board with his 33rd goal of the season. Alex Iafallo followed with his 16th goal of the year nine minutes later to cut the Avs lead in half.

Less than three minutes later, Andre Burakovsky tallied his 21st goal of the season to put the Avs back up by three.

From there, the onslaught continued with Colorado scoring the next four, including Nathan MacKinnon‘s fourth career hat trick. The 26-year-old registered his second five-point night of the season, assisting on Burakovsky and Cale Makar‘s goals in the middle frame.

“The crowd was chanting before the anthem even started,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “You can feel that when you go on the bench as a coach, as a player, that they’re into it and they were going to be energized. And we wanted to make sure we came out and played a really good game after having a couple of off games in Winnipeg and Edmonton.

Colorado came into this matchup, having not played since Saturday night. The Kings looked like a team that earned a desperate two points in Chicago on Tuesday night, flying to Denver and arriving at 2 am on Wednesday. It’s not an excuse, but it’s a tall task being asked to challenge the league’s best team and one that owned a 28-4-3 home record on no rest.

Phillip Danault scored his 23rd goal of the season with 4:52 left in regulation, cleaning up a rebound after Jordan Spence fired a shot on net. Credited with an assist on the play, Spence tallied the first multi-point game of his NHL career.

Up Next: The Kings will have an opportunity to collect themselves before hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. For the rest of the way, LA will play only non-playoff teams.

Up Next: Collecting their seventh straight win on Wednesday, the Avalanche will host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday evening.

(Main photo credit: NHL.com)