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The Calgary Flames hosted the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, hoping to follow up a good outing with a good outcome on Saturday against Winnipeg. The Flames didn’t play a perfect 60 minutes of hockey and some late defensive miscues made the game closer that it needed to be, but they battled well early on and led most of the way en route to a 6-5 victory over the Kings.
The Flames have now won two games in a row.
The Flames got on the board just shy of four minutes into the game. In his first game back from injury, Jonathan Huberdeau carried the puck into the Kings zone and his line got to work cycling the puck. Rasmus Andersson pinched down below the circles and found Huberdeau with a nice pass from below the goal line. Huberdeau double-clutched on his shot, but beat Jonathan Quick to give the Flames a 1-0 lead.
The Kings pressed after that goal and had a nice cycle in the Flames zone, leading to a Nazem Kadri holding penalty. On that man advantage, the Kings continued their nice offensive zone cycle, ending with Victor Arvidsson making a pass from below the goal line across the slot to Arthur Kaliyev, who fired the puck past Jacob Markstrom to tie it up at 1-1.
A little later, the Kings grabbed the lead. Blake Lizotte’s rush scoring chance went wide of the net, just past a sprawling Markstrom. As Markstrom got back upright, Kaliyev recovered the puck and fired it on net from below the goal line, bonking it in off Markstrom to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
But the Flames tied it up a little later. A nice forecheck by Nazem Kadri’s line led to a bit of offensive zone cycling and multiple scoring chances. A pass from below the goal line whizzed past Milan Lucic, but Kadri grabbed it and fired it on net. That initial shot was blocked, but Andrew Mangiapane recovered the puck and fired it past Quick to tie the game at 2-2.
A little later, a smart forecheck by Brett Ritchie gave the Flames a lead. Alex Edler had the puck inside the Kings blueline and Ritchie just skated at him. Edler went to make an outlet pass, but it bonked off Ritchie and set up him and Blake Coleman with a two-on-one chance. Ritchie finished off their give-and-go play to make it 3-2 Flames.
The Flames made it 4-2 late on a really good transition play enabled by a ton of defensive zone patience. The Kings cycled the puck and the Flames just hung with them and waited for a miscue. The Kings turned the puck over and Adam Ruzicka sent Tyler Toffoli and Elias Lindholm in on a two-on-one rush. Toffoli buried the feed from Lindholm.
First period shots were 13-9 Kings (10-9 Kings at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-6 Flames (high-dangers were 3-2 Flames).
The Flames drew a penalty early in the second period and cashed in. Kadri tried to set up Toffoli with a cross-crease pass. Toffoli whiffed on the one-timer attempt, but the puck drifted over to Lindholm in the net-front area and he jammed the puck past a sprawling Quick (who had anticipated Toffoli’s one-timer and was already down) to make it 5-2 Flames.
The Flames got a little casual with their defensive zone coverage for a few shifts and the Kings made them pay. Edler’s point shot went wide of the Flames net, but bounced off the end boards right to Kevin Fiala at the far post. He buried the puck into the wide-open net to cut Calgary’s lead to 5-3.
The Flames upped their intensity a bit after the goal and answered back. Sean Durzi tried to skate the puck out from behind the Kings net, but the Flames forechecked and his breakout pass hit a referee in a bit of a panic. Toffoli poked the puck to Lindholm and he drove the net. Lindholm tried to toe-drag and almost pulled it off, but he left a wide-open net for Ruzicka to pick up the scraps and make it 6-3 Flames.
Second period shots were 17-4 Flames (12-4 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 13-4 Flames (high-dangers were 10-2 Flames).
The Kings inched a little closer in the third period. During a stretch of four-on-four play, Anze Kopitar took advantage of a bit of extra time and space and fired a puck that beat Markstrom low stick-side just inside the far post to cut the lead to 6-4.
During a late stretch of four-on-four (with Quick pulled for the extra attacker), Adrian Kempe’s one-timer deflected off MacKenzie Weegar and past Markstrom to cut the lead to 6-5. But that’s as close as they got and the Flames held on for the win. (Markstrom made a superb late stop on Kopitar to hold the lead.)
Third period shots were 12-3 Kings (2-2 at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 8-1 Flames (high-dangers were 5-0 Flames).
Why the Flames won
It wasn’t a perfect game.
The Flames did a lot of things well, especially early on. They out-worked and out-battled the Kings when the game was close and they were generally the better team. But the Kings got desperate and the Flames got a little too casual in the back half of the game, which resulted in the Kings taking advantage of some defensive zone miscues to make the game close.
Let’s go with Lindholm, who had a bunch of chances, a bunch of shots, and three points.
Honourable mention to his linemates, Ruzicka and Toffoli, who were also both strong. Heck, a lot of players in red had nice outings.
The Flames trailed this game four about five minutes total, as the Flames scored twice in a 42 second span to grab hold of the game in the second half of the first period. Aside from a bit of a lull in the second period that lasted a couple shifts, the Flames never looked back.
This and that
Huberdeau’s goal was his 200th of his NHL career. Kadri’s second assist was his 300th of his NHL career. This game was the 500th of Nikita Zadorov’s NHL career.
The Flames used a lot of different defensive pairings early in this game, seemingly looking for some chemistry. They largely stuck to consistent pairings in the second and third periods, though.
The Flames (7-6-2) are headed back on the road! They face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday evening, with a 5 p.m. MT puck drop!