Kings-Flames Recap: LA Fails to Convert Chances, Kill Penalties
Calgary's third power play goal of the evening wins it with 30 seconds left. The postgame debate was about Anze Kopitar's controversial late penalty, but the coaches will be more concerned about other things.
Yep, it was one of those games. T.J. Brodie's late game-winner gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, after LA failed to capitalize on numerous chances.
A dominant first period for the Kings was nearly wasted. At least, it was a dominant 19 minutes; Calgary got three shots on Jonathan Quick in the opening minute, and Quick was able to freeze the puck after consecutive shots by Lee Stempniak and Mike Cammalleri. The Flames got exactly one shot in the rest of the frame, and they lost the shot battle AND the physical battle decisively after that. Los Angeles has been trying to ramp up their hitting, and they were led in that regard by the fourth line of Matt Frattin, Colin Fraser, and Kyle Clifford. (The left wings got shuffled later on, with Frattin moving to the third line, King to the second, and Carcillo down to the fourth.)
The Kings had a number of good looks at the net soon after the opening minute, but often couldn't get a clean shot away when they had a look. I'm pretty sure every center had at least one fluffed shot. And no, none of them scored a goal last night, though they all narrowly missed in their own ways.
(By the way, did you know that Mike Smith has more goals than the Kings' centers combined? This is a highly original statistic that should be repeated until I snap and slash someone in the back of the leg.)
The Kings would manage to break through on their second power play, right near the end of the period. The power play cycled well, and Dustin Brown's cross-ice pass found Drew Doughty. Doughty calmly stickhandled around Ben Street and (finally!) got a clean shot away, and his wrister beat Ramo high.
The second period began a frustrating trend: penalties. Lots of them. LA's penalty kill was ranked second in the entire NHL entering last night, but the Flames would convert on their first two power plays of the game. With Kyle Clifford in the box for holding, Matt Greene crushed Mark Giordano with a great check along the boards. Unfortunately, the puck went straight to Jiri Hudler, who set up Mike Cammalleri for a one-timer. Jonathan Quick seemed a little slow getting over to cover the post, and the shot got through. LA would have a number of chances to take the lead after, but once the Flames got on the man advantage again after a Doughty holding penalty, good puck movement set up a pass from Giordano to Cammalleri right in front. Quick made a stellar stop in front, but Sean Monahan beat the defense to the rebound and knocked it home.
With a 2-1 lead, the Flames would immediately receive two more power play chances, thanks to Daniel Carcillo and Robyn Regehr. But with Regehr serving his two minutes, the Kings' penalty kill made a play to tie the game near the end of the period. Jeff Carter sped along the boards and juuuuust managed to get past Mark Giordano, and he threw the puck to the front as Mike Richards charged in. At first it appeared that Richards was able to tip the puck past Karri Ramo, but it was actually Dennis Wideman who redirected the puck past his own goalie. So it was a shorthanded goal for Carter, who just finds ways to score. Anze Kopitar hit the base of the post with one minute left, and the game remained tied heading into period #3.
The game tightened up in the third period, but aside from a Jeff Carter high stick, the referees loosened up. A number of borderline penalties (as well as a high stick to Dustin Brown and a collision between Dan Carcillo and Karri Ramo) were ignored, and the teams got opportunities to win the game at (gasp) even strength. Unfortunately, the Kings couldn't take advantage, and Mike Richards hit the post on a tip with three minutes left. Anze Kopitar took a penalty 45 seconds later, on a hooking penalty that could be called borderline at best and really, really weak at worst. Dennis Wideman went down really easily, the refs saw a parallel stick, and the crowd booed. Naturally, T.J. Brodie would score on the ensuing power play, one-timing a Jiri Hudler pass into a narrow window in the bottom corner to beat Quick and the Kings with 29 seconds left.
The problems were obvious. Six straight penalties, no even strength goals. Sutter likes making changes after losses, and with 5-on-5 scoring nonexistent, a forward change is coming. Who goes out? Carcillo drew a penalty, Frattin had some jump and hit people, Fraser... hit people, Clifford's been good lately. No egregiously bad forward perfomances last night, and that's the frustrating part. The bottom six looked like they came to play, the top two lines had plenty of chances, but the Kings couldn't score, and the Flames hung in long enough to snatch a win at the buzzer.