CALGARY – The Los Angeles Kings knew that winning in Darryl Sutter’s return to Calgary was a big deal for the stoic head coach, even if he wouldn’t admit it.
Dustin Brown and Mike Richards each had a goal and an assist and Jonathan Quick made 29 saves as the Los Angeles Kings spoiled Mike Cammalleri’s anticipated Calgary debut, winning 4-1 over the Flames.
The victory ended Flames eight-game home winning streak and gave Sutter a victory over the organization he called home for eight years.
“Everyone’s aware of the situation, coming back here for him,” Brown said. “Guys understood, whether he downplays it or not, I know he wants to win this game.”
The win also game Darryl Sutter family bragging rights over Flames head coach Brent Sutter, as the two brothers faced each other as NHL coaches for the first time. The fact the battleground was Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome added more nuance to a game already brimming with story lines.
“It’s a great building to be in. That’s what it’s about. Hey, what more do you want? A kid from Alberta on Hockey Night in Canada in an Alberta building, pretty awesome right,” said Darryl Sutter with a laugh.
Darryl Sutter took over as Calgary’s coach in the 2002-03 campaign and added GM title the following season. He guided the Flames to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup in 2004 and coached one more season before deciding to concentrate on his duties as GM.
“He was pretty intense all day, more so than usual,” said Kings left-winger Dustin Penner. “The way he spoke and what he said, you could tell this meant a lot to him and we were happy to get it for him.”
Darryl, who stepped down as Calgary Flames general manager in December 2010, is 7-1-4 since replacing Terry Murray as the Kings’ coach on Dec. 17.
Matt Greene and Anze Kopitar also scored for Los Angeles (22-15-8), which kicked off a three-game road trip that continues Sunday in Edmonton.
Cammalleri had his 10th goal of the season in the first game in his second stint with the Flames (21-20-5).
It was Calgary’s first regulation loss to Los Angeles at home since Dec. 21, 2005. In the 11 games since, they had gone 10-0-1.
The Kings surged in front with three consecutive goals in the second period, the first coming just 27 seconds in. Richards made no mistake on a breakaway after Penner cleared the puck to centre and it skipped over the stick of Flames defenceman Mark Giordano.
“That was a break that was nice to get, that opened it up for us. Not much else you can say, that was a gift from the hockey gods,” Penner said.
The Kings made it 2-0 at 3:02 on Greene’s wrist shot through a screen.
“Our first period was as good of a first period as we played, probably all year,” Brent Sutter said. “The second period, the puck bounced over Gio’s stick they get a 2-on-0 breakaway on it and capitalize. The next seven minutes of the period we had a lot of turnovers.”
Kopitar’s power-play goal at 14:48 increased the Kings lead to 3-0 before Cammalleri replied at 15:22, deflecting Anton Babchuk’s point shot.
Calgary outshot the Kings 30-24 but like most NHL teams these days, struggled to solve Jonathan Quick, who improved to 19-11-7.
“He’s just starting to get recognized,” Brown said. “Quickie’s been playing like that for a few years and maybe playing in L.A. he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.”
Among his second periods stops was a glove save off Jay Bouwmeester and a sprawling stop of Mikael Backlund.
“He was good tonight, made some really good saves,” said Backlund. “I had two good chances in the second, so it’s frustrating I couldn’t get a goal as I had some good chances.”
Quick entered the night with a 6-1-3 record in his previous 10 starts, 1.45 goals-against average, and .947 save percentage, and all of those numbers got even better.
Kiprusoff made 20 stops to fall to 20-15-2.
Cammalleri started the night on left-wing with Backlund and Lee Stempniak, but line juggling starting late in the second resulted in Cammalleri being reunited with captain Jarome Iginla.
“It was a tough loss. We really wanted to win that one,” Cammalleri said. “I thought we came out real strong andhad a good first period and then they got a couple goals there that hurt us and we couldn’t make it up.”
The night was full of tributes for Cammalleri from the roar from the Saddledome when he was announced in the starting line-up, to a video montage shown on the scoreboard during the first period, to yet another lengthy video of him coming from the airport and arriving to the throngs of media at the Saddledome on Friday night.
However, It was a less than stellar first half of the game for Cammalleri, who was on the ice for both of the Kings first two goals, took a penalty early in the second, and was charged with a couple of giveaways.
Notes: Scratched to make room for Cammalleri was Paul Byron…It was Brent Sutter’s 210th game as Flames coach, equalling the number of games Darryl Sutter spend behind the Flames bench…Calgary plays 18 of its final 36 games against the Pacific Division…Los Angeles improves to 15-2-4 when scoring first…It was the Flames first regulation time loss at home since Nov. 15 versus Ottawa. Calgary had been 10-0-1 in its past 11 games at the Saddledome…Iginla’s next goal will be his 502nd, which will tie him with former Flame Joe Mullen for 40th on the all-time list.