CALGARY – After getting a night off, Miikka Kiprusoff was back at for the Calgary Flames on Thursday.
Kiprusoff made 34 saves, including 15 in the third period, as Calgary hung on to beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.
“Overall, we played a really good game. That’s what we needed,” said Kiprusoff. “We’ve had some tough times lately and we know we had to bounce back. We’re going to be home for a few games now so this is a big win.”
Kiprusoff was rested Tuesday night in St. Louis after being peppered with 81 shots in his two previous starts.
“Right away from the start we were ready, like we should be every game,” Kiprusoff said. “A couple guys had great hits early. It was a good team win.”
Dion Phaneuf, with less than a second to go in the first, and Nigel Dawes had the goals for Calgary (20-10-4), which kicked off a four-game homestand by snapping a three-game winless skid.
Corey Elkins, with his first NHL goal, replied for Los Angeles (22-12-3).
With 2.9 seconds remaining in the first and the game scoreless, Olli Jokinen outduelled Anze Kopitar off the faceoff and drew the puck back to Jarome Iginla.
The Flames captain quickly fed Phaneuf at the blue-line, who one-timed a slapshot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
After video review, the power-play goal stood as Phaneuf’s seventh of the season and first in 20 games.
“Olli did a great job winnning the draw and Iggy made a great pass putting it right in an area where I could get it off,” said Phaneuf.
Kings coach Terry Murray was disappointed with his team’s defensive zone coverage on the play.
“If we just close quickly on Phaneuf, don’t even hesitate, go right to him right away, there is no shot at the net. You can look at that and say ‘Man, with seven-tenths of a second left, that’s a hard one to swallow.”‘
After a scoreless second period, Dawes made it 2-0 at 1:02 of the third. Kings defenceman Alec Martinez had his clearing attempt intercepted and the Flames eventually worked the puck in deep to Daymond Langkow, who set up Dawes for a one-timer.
Elkins scored at 11:06 of the third off Oscar Moller’s centring pass to bring the Kings to within one.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Elkins, 24, playing in just his second-career game. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t have also got a win to go with it.”
Los Angeles dominated much of the third period, outshooting Calgary 16-3, but could get no closer as Kiprusoff improved to 18-8-4.
Since giving up six goals and getting pulled after two periods in a 7-1 home ice loss to Chicago on Nov. 19, Kiprusoff has been one of the NHL’s hottest goaltenders.
In 12 starts since that rocky outing, Kiprusoff has gone 7-3-2, allowing only 17 goals.
Quick finished with 22 saves to drop to 20-11-3.
Taking advantage of a beaten up Kings team with seven players sidelined with injuries, Calgary played a punishing physical game outhitting Los Angeles 26-10.
“They came out with a real hard and heavy game, a gritty game here tonight,” said Murray. “Take a look at our lineup, they’re seeing a lot of guys that we’ve called up from the American Hockey League and they wanted to push us out of the game with a lot of heavy play.
“I was really proud of our guys in that sense, that we didn’t go away.”
Flames defenceman Marc Giordano led the home side with four hits. Kings captain Dustin Brown was on the receiving end of each of them – two in particular drawing a roar from the sell-out crowd of 19,289.
“Even with the goals they scored, the momemtum changers that they had the opportunity to be, we responded pretty well and didn’t let it get to us,” said Brown. “We got down 2-0 and we came right back, we kept plugging along, but just didn’t have enough to pull it out tonight.”
L.A. entered the game a red-hot 8-1-1 in its previous 10 games and are now off for eight days. The Kings return to action Dec. 26 in Phoenix.
The Kings went 0-for-3 on the power play and are now 0-for-15 over their last five games. Calgary finished up 1-for-5 with the extra man.
Notes: Calgary D Adam Pardy (wrist) returned after missing three games. … Not in the lineup for Los Angeles were defencemen Jack Johnson (lower body) and Randy Jones (neck). Both were injured Tuesday in Edmonton. … Kopitar has gone 18 games without a multi-point game, a stretch which dates back to Nov. 11, before linemate Ryan Smyth (upper body) got injured. Smyth has missed the last 15 games. … Calgary has won the last eight meetings against the Kings at the Pengrowth Saddledome. … Martinez (ankle) played for the first time since playing in the Kings season opener. Martinez has spent the last month playing for Manchester (AHL).