LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Jeff Carter’s teammates can sense the anticipation in the crowd every time he goes on an offensive rush.
His goal-scoring binge is the reason why.
Carter netted his 13th goal in 13 games, and the Los Angeles Kings beat Calgary 6-2 on Saturday night in their first of back-to-back home games against the Flames.
“With the fans, it’s kind of funny because every time he has the puck, they think he will score,” Kings goalie Jonathan Quick said. “It doesn’t matter where he shoots it from. It can be from the neutral zone, and the fans will expect it to go in.
“He’s one of the leaders on our team, he’s scoring goals, and we need him to do that. He’s one of the biggest reasons we’re where we are in the standings.”
Justin Williams had a goal and two assists, and the Kings also got goals from Anze Kopitar, Colin Fraser, Trevor Lewis and rookie defenceman Jake Muzzin against Miikka Kiprusoff.
Defenceman Slava Voynov tied a career high with his second three-assist game in a week, and Quick made 17 saves to help lift the defending Stanley Cup champions into a tie with St. Louis and Detroit for fourth place in the Western Conference.
“Our focus was playing in the offensive zone as much as we could and hanging onto the puck,” Williams said. “We’re a big strong team, and that’s our identity.
“We’re very tough to get off the puck. We certainly played that way and got to Kiprusoff, which doesn’t happen often.”
Kiprusoff, making his third straight start after missing 13 games because of a sprained knee, gave up six goals on 22 shots and was replaced by Joey MacDonald after Fraser’s goal with 11:38 remaining. Michael Cammalleri and Alex Tanguay scored for Calgary.
“We didn’t back down. We’ve got some good competitors and we competed,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “We got outplayed, but by no means did we feel we got pushed around out there.
“We need to get this thing together quickly.”
The Flames’ first visit to Los Angeles this season was eventful from the start.
Less than a half-minute after the opening faceoff, Kings centre Mike Richards skated toward the red line and fired a slap shot that hit Kiprusoff’s right arm and bounced off the left post. The puck rolled parallel with the goal line and through the other side of the crease.
The standing-room-only crowd of 18,248 was still buzzing about the close call when Dennis Wideman put a wrist shot past Quick at 2:48. The goal was waved off because of a goalie interference call against Lee Stempniak.
“He skated right into me, so I assumed it would be waved off,” Quick said. “I thought he got it right, and I’m sure if you go to their locker room, they’ll say he got it wrong.”
Apparently still upset about the call by referee Kyle Rehman, the Calgary bench received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 3:04. Los Angeles capitalized on the ensuing power play when Carter redirected Dustin Brown’s short pass from a few feet away, extending his goal streak to four games.
The Kings were then whistled for three penalties in 75 seconds. The first two resulting in the tying goal by Cammalleri at 7:24 during a 5-on-3 advantage.
Wideman faked a shot from the high slot and fed a pass to the former Kings centre, who had plenty of room at the right side of the net with Quick out of position to score his ninth goal.
Kings centre Jarret Stoll, who won 24 of 29 faceoffs in the previous two games, was given a delay-of-game penalty for a faceoff violation right after Cammalleri’s goal when he tied up the Flames’ goal leader with his stick on the ensuing draw. That gave Calgary a two-man advantage for another 1:38.
The Kings survived that threat, and Muzzin regained the lead for them at 10:42 with a long wrist shot through traffic that beat Kiprusoff through a screen. Lewis made it 3-1 at 18:23 with a wrist shot over Kiprusoff’s glove before Tanguay got the Flames within a goal again 17 seconds before the first intermission.
“We were in a bad position, but we bounced back nicely from the one that was called off and got the goal back,” Iginla said. “Being able to make it 3-2 at the end of the first gave us a shot. But in the second period we got outplayed and they took the game over. We didn’t put enough pressure on them.”
Williams, restored the Kings’ two-goal margin at 9:44 of the second period on a deflection of Voynov’s long slap shot through a screen. Voynov also had three assists Monday in a 5-1 win against Nashville.
“Slava’s been playing some great hockey, not only offensively but in the defensive zone, as well,” Williams said. “He’s been working hard and he’s having fun out there.”
NOTES: Former Los Angeles goalie Kelly Hrudey was honoured in a pregame ceremony as the Kings continued their “Legends Night Series.” Hrudey, who backstopped the team to its first Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1993, is second behind Rogie Vachon on the Kings’ list in regular-season games played (360) and wins (145). … Cammalleri has nine goals in 13 games since sitting out three because of a lower body injury. The 10-year veteran, who began his NHL career with the Kings, has six goals and three assists in 12 games against his former team. Three goals have been game-winners. … Tanguay has scored seven goals this season despite taking just 27 shots. … All four meetings last season between the teams were won by the visiting club. They will meet again on Monday. … Matt Stajan earned his 300th NHL point with an assist on Tanguay’s goal.