LOS ANGELES – When the Calgary Flames visited the Kings last month, Jarome Iginla bulled his way to a goal in every period. When the Flames returned to Los Angeles 16 days later, the Calgary captain was held scoreless.
It’s not a bad measure of just how quickly the Kings are learning during their most promising season in several years. Scott Parse and Jarret Stoll scored early goals, and the Kings beat the road-weary Flames 2-1 Monday night for their fifth victory in seven games.
Jonathan Quick made 26 saves, backing the Kings’ solid defence with a series of outstanding stops during the scoreless final 35 minutes. Los Angeles again struggled offensively, yet still handed the NHL’s best road team just its third regulation defeat away from Calgary with calm, patient work.
“We just kept doing the right thing,” Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. “Our focus was good. Our concentration was good on doing the right thing. … Against a team like this, you’ve got to make a decision that you’re going to go hard and you’re going to go heavy.”
The Kings ended a five-game losing streak to the Flames with just their second win in 13 meetings. Los Angeles has earned a point in five straight games despite horrendous slumps for high-scoring forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown – and Quick’s teammates pointed most of the credit in the direction of their brawny goalie.
“The team in front of me played great, so that made it a lot easier,” Quick said. “When the game was on the line in the last two minutes, I don’t think they even got to set the puck up in our zone.”
Curtis Glencross scored and Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 15 shots for the Flames, who finished a successful six-game road trip with just Kiprusoff’s second loss in his last 12 games against the Kings.
Calgary lost its Northwest Division lead to Colorado, which beat St. Louis earlier. But the Flames have three games in hand on the Avalanche, and their solid play on a brutal trip is highly encouraging.
“When you only give a team 16 shots, you’ve played a pretty good road game,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said. “But we needed our power play to win the game for us, and our penalty killing got scored on for the winning goal.
“It’s a tough loss. If we did a couple of things better, we could have won the game. We seemed to be hesitant of getting shots to the net and getting traffic in front.”
Calgary beat NHL-leading San Jose 2-1 at the Shark Tank on Saturday night in the highlight of a difficult stretch featuring nine road games in their last 10 outings. The Flames still were competitive in Los Angeles despite playing without key defencemen Cory Sarich and Robyn Regehr, out with undisclosed injuries.
But after Glencross’ first-period goal, the Flames came up empty. Quick was helped by his post more than once, and he swatted a rebound out of midair and off the post for his most dramatic save in the third period.
“They’ve been playing well, and we know their record has been good over their last five or six games,” said Iginla, who had four shots. “We’re definitely disappointed that we couldn’t win tonight and end it on the right note, but it was a good trip. We had some tough buildings and every team’s competitive. The last game before you go home, sometimes you’re not focused and not there, but I thought it was there tonight.”
The Kings are finding other ways to score with top-line forward Ryan Smyth sidelined by a long-term upper-body injury. Although Kopitar – the NHL scoring leader last month – hasn’t scored a goal in 13 games and Brown hasn’t found the net in 14, Los Angeles has stayed among the Western Conference’s top teams.
Los Angeles opened the scoring midway through the first period when Parse turned the corner on defenceman Adam Pardy, kept the puck away from Kiprusoff and scored while falling to the ice. Glencross evened it late in the period with a backhand from the slot, splitting two defenders for his seventh goal on a slick pass from Craig Conroy.
Stoll put the Kings back ahead early in the second with a redirection of Justin Williams’ pass in front of Kiprusoff during a power play.
NOTES: Kings RW Wayne Simmonds’ career-best six-game points streak ended. … Regehr participated in the pregame skate before being scratched with an undisclosed injury. Regehr played 19 minutes against the Sharks. … Los Angeles D Rob Scuderi returned from a nine-game injury absence, playing nearly 18½ minutes.