The Calgary Flames lost to the Los Angeles Kings tonight by a 2-1 score at Staples Center.
To be blunt, they were out-played by a deeper, better, more-structured team. They were held in the game by Joni Ortio, who made 35 saves and was far and away the team’s best player.
Everybody else? They were so-so.
The story of the opening frame was Joni Ortio. Starting for the first time since October 30 – the game where Calgary got embarrassed at home by the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 – Ortio was extremely sharp early-on. And he had to be, as the Flames seemed content to practice their penalty kill, even when they had five skaters on the ice. The Kings didn’t score, somehow, even though they out-shot Calgary 13-3 and out-attempted them 19-7.
Ortio was the story again in the second. The Kings finally broke through, though, as a Luke Schenn shot from an odd angle (through a screen) eluded Ortio – who didn’t really see it. But the Flames rallied back, scoring 8 seconds into a power-play off a really nice passing sequence between Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Jiri Hudler that ended with a Monahan tap-in. However, the Kings responded back before the period was over; Anze Kopitar collected a puck off a broken play and beat Ortio on the power-play. Shots were 17-9 and attempts were 28-17, both for the Kings.
There was no scoring in the third. The Flames pressed at times, but couldn’t break through and generate many really good chances. And when they did, Jonathan Quick was sharp. Shots were 11-7 for the Flames, and they also had a slight 19-15 edge in shot attempts. Too little, too late.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Well, they were wildly, wildly out-shot in the first 40 minutes. Joni Ortio was superb, but he couldn’t score goals for them. Or clear the puck out of the offensive zone for them. Or really do anything but try his damnest to keep the puck out of the net.
They finally seemed to get it together late in the game, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Joni Ortio. He was the player that did the most to give them a chance to win.
The Hudler/Monahan/Gaudreau trio did pick it up late in the game, though.
THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM
11 points out of a playoff spot! 5 points out of last place!
23 games left!
The Flames return home and are back in action on Thursday night as they welcome the New York Islanders to the Saddledome.