LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The frenetic Western Conference playoff race is pushing the Los Angeles Kings to play a more intense, urgent brand of hockey. The Calgary Flames keep trying to squeeze into the picture, and lately they have come up short.
Jonathan Quick made 27 saves, and Anze Kopitar scored the deciding goal of the shootout in the Kings’ 2-1 victory over the Flames on Monday night.
The Kings jumped two points ahead of Chicago into fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race. Calgary, with 85 points, is tied with Anaheim and Dallas—one point behind Chicago and Nashville with seven games remaining. The Ducks and Stars both have three game sin hand on Calgary.
“They’ve been charging toward the playoffs, and you know how big this game was,” Kopitar said of the Flames. “They have a good lineup, definitely, but we came out prepared. Obviously, you don’t want to give up the point—but as long as we get two the rest of the way, I don’t think it matters too much.”
Miikka Kiprusoff made 27 saves for the Flames, who were coming off a 5-4 overtime loss at Anaheim on Sunday. Calgary lost for the fifth time in six games following a 16-3-3 stretch in which Kiprusoff started every game but the first one and allowed more than three goals twice.
On Sunday, they lost 5-4 at Anaheim after rallying from a three-goal deficit to take the lead.
“Kipper was outstanding,” Calgary coach Brent Sutter said. “It was just one of those nights where you knew it was going to be a tight game right from the start to the finish. It was like a Game 7 playoffs, and you can’t ask for anymore than that.”
Jarret Stoll pulled Los Angeles even in the shootout after Alex Tanguay beat Quick, and Kopitar put the Kings ahead when he slipped the puck through Kiprusoff’s pads. Stoll has scored on seven of eight shootout attempts this season after entering 4 for 13 in his career.
Calgary’s Curtis Glencross shot wide of the right post to end it, making Quick 8-0 in shootouts this season.
“I have give a lot of credit to the guys shooting the puck for us,” said Quick, 20-7 in shootouts. “When we score on two out of three, I think we’re going to win more times than not. They’ve been doing that all year, Stolly has been absolutely clutch for the past year on the shootout, he’s scored some big goals for us. The same with Kopi.”
Stoll scored the game’s first goal with 5:52 left in regulation on the Kings’ 24th shot, beating Kiprusoff on a rebound for his 19th goal.
“We’re shooting the puck more and getting more shots to the net,” Stoll said. “It started from the power play, getting more confidence, but we do have to get more going five-on-five.”
The Flames tied it 65 seconds later when Olli Jokinen slipped the puck past Quick on Calgary’s 22nd shot. It was his 16th goal this season and sixth in 21 career games against his former team.
“That was intense, very playoff-like, and a lot of good things on both sides,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “Jonathan Quick made several really big stops, especially on their power play early in the first period. I know Jarome Iginla had a one-timer that was as good a save as maybe I’ve seen all year long. It was a fun game to play and a fun game to coach.”
Iginla and Flames teammate Mark Giordano both hit the left post seconds apart during an early second-period power play.
“Everyone was here to play, on both sides,” Iginla said. “Both goalies played great. We had some good chances, hit a few posts, then you go to a shootout and anything can happen. We would have loved to get two points, and we know in our remaining games we’re going to have to get a ton of them. So we’ve got to keep our heads up and keep playing like that.”
The Kings extended their streak of successful penalty kills to 35 by turning aside six Calgary power plays—including one in the final 1:03 of overtime after a penalty for too many men on the ice. The franchise record is 46 straight, set in 2001-02 season.
Notes: The Kings have earned at least a point in 22 of their last 26 games (17-4-5). … Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester will become the first NHL defenceman to play in 500 consecutive games if he is in the lineup Wednesday at San Jose. … The Kings sold out Staples Center for the 30th time this season,equalling the most since the arena opened in 1999-00. They also did it during the 2003-04 season. … The Kings haven’t scored more than two goals in their last six home games against Calgary, but have won three times.