LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Calgary Flames haven’t spent much time in a Western Conference playoff position this season. Now they have moved above the post-season cutoff, they will be counting on goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to keep them there.
Kiprusoff made 28 saves for his 44th NHL shutout and fourth this season, Michael Cammalleri scored early in the third period against his former team, and the Flames beat the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Saturday night.
Kiprusoff passed Turk Broda on the career victory list with his 303rd, tying Olaf Kolzig for 24th place and putting him within two wins of Billy Smith. The Flames haven’t allowed more than three goals in their last 13 games.
“They were ready and they were coming,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “There’s no question that they had a big push in those first 10 minutes and outplayed us in the first period. But Kip played great, and we were able to weather that storm and come out zero-zero. That could have been a different game if Kip’s not great and we don’t find a way to pull it together.”
Kiprusoff, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2006, is 26-17-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average. He has allowed fewer than three goals in 11 of his last 15 starts.
“He’s played as good as I’ve seen him play in his career—and that’s counting the Vezina year,” Iginla said. “He’s been outstanding all year, and he’s enjoying it—this climbing back up in the playoff race. So he’s really into it. He doesn’t mind that each game is tight because he loves to compete. Tonight, he made some tough saves, especially early.”
The Kings haven’t scored more than two goals in their last eight home games against Calgary. The Kings are tied with the Flames for eighth place in the West, but have one fewer win. Both teams have played 59 games.
“We’ve been in this situation the last two years, so it’s no different now,” Brown said. “The last couple years, we’ve been battling for a playoff spot. As frustrating as these last two games have been, offensively, we’ve got to refocus. We play Phoenix on Tuesday. We can’t sit here and talk about what-ifs. We’ve got games to play.”
Jonathan Quick faced 18 shots and took another tough loss. Los Angeles has been beaten 1-0 in back-to-back games and five times this season. The Kings have eight shutout losses overall.
“It’s been the same thing for this team all year—finding ways to score goals,” captain Dustin Brown said. “We’ve been shut out in back-to-back 1-0 games at home against teams that are two points behind us in both cases (including Phoenix). Tonight we had some really good chances. It’s definitely frustrating, and it’s been frustrating all year. I don’t want to say we didn’t work hard—we did.”
The Kings held the Flames to one shot through the first 9 1/2 minutes, and allowed only one through the first 18:24 of the second. Overall, they outshot Calgary 28-18, the seventh straight game in which the Flames’ opponents had the advantage.
But Cammalleri, who spent his first five NHL seasons with the Kings, snapped the deadlock at 4:03 of the third with the Flames’ first shot of the period. He banged in his 14th goal from just outside the crease after Quick reached out to deflect a centring pass by Tom Kostopoulos, who shook off a hard check from Dwight King in the right corner as he passed the puck.
“Tommy made a good shift to get around him,” Cammalleri said, “and then I was yelling at him: ‘Just throw it to the net!’ And as I yelled it, I realized that he was going to have to extend and put himself in a vulnerable position to it. But he did it, anyway. That’s Tommy Kostopoulos.”
In nine career games against the Kings, Cammalleri has five goals and three assists.
“It feels good,” he said. “I still have close ties here in L.A. It’s where I started my career, and I played more years here than I played anywhere else. So it’s fun to win here.”
NOTES: Flames broadcaster Charlie Simmer, one-third of the Kings’ famed “Triple Crown Line” with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor, was the latest honoree in the team’s “Legends Night” series. Simmer had back-to-back, 56-goal seasons in the early 1980s and scored a goal in a franchise-record 13 straight games. … Kings C Mike Richards hasn’t scored a goal in 14 games, and has only one in 24. … LW Dustin Penner, a healthy scratch the previous three games, returned to the Kings’ lineup. RW Trent Hunter was sent to Manchesterof the AHL after he cleared waivers Saturday morning. … Calgary LW Blake Comeau turned 26 and played in his 300th regular-season game. … The Flames were 0 for 1 on the power play and are 0 for 14 in their last five games—matching their longest string of the season. … C Jarret Stoll, the Kings’ most successful player on faceoffs, missed his fourth straight game because of a lower body injury. … The Kings haven’t allowed more than three goals in 15 games since a 5-4 home loss to Dallas on Jan. 12. … The Kings are 15-7-7 since Darryl Sutter replaced Terry Murray as head coach.