LOS ANGELES – The future of the Los Angeles Kings is starting to look bright – even in one of their dreariest seasons.
Ted Purcell scored his first NHL goal and Brian Boyle notched his fourth in seven games since his promotion from the minors, sparking the Kings to a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night and improving Los Angeles’ NHL-worst record to 25-32-3.
“The play of some of our younger people, especially Boyle and Purcell, was pretty special. And maybe it’s pushing some other guys,” coach Marc Crawford said.
Kevin Dallman got his first goal of the season, Anze Kopitar scored on a power play and Patrick O’Sullivan added a short-handed goal for the undermanned Kings, who snapped a six-game losing streak against Calgary and prevented the Flames from sweeping the four-game season series.
Derek Armstrong had a goal and two assists, Alexander Frolov had three assists and Jason LaBarbera made 39 saves for Los Angeles. Captain Rob Blake missed his seventh game with a non-displaced fracture in his left ankle, and Michael Cammalleri sat out because of flu-like symptoms.
Boyle, a first-round draft pick by Los Angeles in 2003, is in his second professional season following four years at Boston College. On Feb. 2, he became the 17th player in Kings history to score a goal in his NHL debut.
“I think if that first one didn’t go in, maybe things would be a bit different,” Boyle said. “When I get a chance to shoot, I usually feel pretty confident. Fortunate for me, guys have been finding me in pretty good areas.”
Purcell, who spent last season with the University of Maine, signed with the Kings as an unrestricted free agent in April and recorded 16 goals and 42 assists with Manchester of the AHL.
“Most of us thought when we signed Teddy last year that he was a sure-fire NHL prospect,” Crawford said. “He was a guy that just about every team in the league made an offer to, and our people did a great job of convincing Teddy to come here.
Daymond Langkow, Dustin Boyd and Owen Nolan scored for Calgary.
The Kings were welcomed back from a 4-4 road trip by their 10th sellout crowd of the season and connected on three of their first six shots against Miikka Kiprusoff to grab a 3-1 lead at 8:59 of the opening period.
“Obviously we knew we were going to have a big crowd, so it was real important to get off to a good start,” O’Sullivan said. “Being gone for 18 days was really tough. We’re still not adjusted to being home yet – and we’ve got to go play another road game tomorrow at Phoenix. But such is life in this league, especially being on the west coast.”
Dallman opened the scoring at 3:05 of the first period. The lead lasted just 70 seconds as Langkow beat LaBarbera from short range for his 23rd goal and eighth against the Kings, including a hat trick on Jan. 18. Prior to this season, Langkow had 10 goals in 35 career games against them.
Boyle regained the lead for the Kings at 6:02 of the first after Frolov fed him the puck in the slot from the left boards. Purcell, playing in his sixth NHL game, scored on a one-timer from the slot that also beat Kiprusoff to the stick side. The Kings scored three more in the second period to open up a 6-2 cushion.
“We didn’t play with preparation,” coach Mike Keenan said. “We just didn’t have any defence, particularly in the first period. It makes you wonder what level of preparation or element is needed to play with consistency.”
Notes: Kiprusoff stopped 19 shots, including a penalty shot by Jeff Giuliano with 8:45 to play – the first one taken against the Flames this season. The six goals against were a season high for Kiprusoff, who beat Tampa Bay 9-6 on Dec. 13 with help from hat tricks by Jarome Iginla and Kristian Huselius.