Tonight's 2-1 loss to the L.A. Kings was a sight all too familiar to Flames fans, as the visiting team fell down by a goal in the first period and failed to generate much of a push-back until mid-way through the final frame.
The Flames looked to come into this game riding some momentum from their victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night, and they started this game off with a few good chances, including a disallowed Matt Stajan goal that would have put the visitors up 1-0 . Chances were close in the opening frame, but the Kings took a 1-0 lead on Kyle Clifford's first NHL goal. L.A. would go on the powerplay shortly thereafter, and would take over for the remainder of the period, facing Kiprusoff to make several good stops, including this one on Jarett Stoll after a Cory Sarich giveaway.
Things didn't change much in the second, as the middle frame was all Kings. L.A. limited their visitors to just four shots on goal as the Flames took three minors in the period and struggled to get out of their own zone, getting out-chanced to the tune of 10-3. Calgary didn't deserve to be in this game after such an uninspired forty minutes, but Kipper dragged them into the third kicking and screaming, still down by just one goal.
The Kings wouldn't wait long to add to their lead in the final frame, however, as Anze Kopitar eluded Jay Bouwmeester on an L.A. powerplay and beat Kiprusoff to put his team up by two. The Flames would spoil Jonathan Quick's shutout bid on a late powerplay goal by Olli Jokinen, but that was as close as they'd get as it was too little, too late once again for the visitors, who out-shot the Kings 15-10 in the final twenty minutes.
Rene Bourque's late spear to Drew Doughty in the dying seconds of the game only adds to the Flames' problems on this road trip, as he could find himself on the NHL's naughty list as early as tomorrow, upon further review of the play. Bourque did not have a particularly strong game tonight, registering just one shot on net and finishing -3 in both scoring chance differential and Corsi after having a nice game against Tampa earlier this week. In addition to the frustration caused by his inconsistency, poor discipline is one of his well-documented weaknesses as a player, and he could find himself sitting for a few games as a result of his most recent action. Maybe it would do him some good.
The "Nordic Combined" line was reunited tonight and was the Flames' best trio in this game, as Backlund, Hagman, and Jokinen were the only Calgary forwards to finish in the black in Corsi and out-chanced their opposition 11-4, although not without the help of some favourable circumstances, as they got the benefit of a disproportionate number of offensive zone starts. Olli had five shots on net tonight and was buzzing around the L.A. cage for much of the evening before being rewarded with his third goal of the season. Jarome Iginla had a team-leading six shots on goal including a golden opportunity early in the game that was denied by Quick, although he still extended his point streak with an assist on Jokinen's marker. Iggy or "Elvis" as we've recently taken to calling him in the comments, now has 12 goals and 12 assists to match his jersey number...maybe it's some kind of sign.
On the defensive side of things, I thought Adam Pardy had himself a decent game despite finishing -1 on the scoresheet and -3 in scoring chances. He was credited with a team-leading four blocked shots including a diving play across the crease aid a stranded Kiprusoff in the third. He also finished tied with Robyn Regehr for the second most hits on the night with five. Sarich led the team with six on what was an otherwise rough night for the veteran rearguard. Kiprusoff was without a doubt the star of the game for the Flames, as tonight's result could have been much uglier without his play between the pipes.
Henrik Karlsson will supposedly get the start tomorrow night against the Ducks, who suddenly find themselves tied with six other teams in the West with 32 points, although they've played the most games of every team at 31. Former Flames backup Curtis McElhinney left last night's game against the Canucks after sustaining a cut as the result of taking a hard slapshot to his mask, making it likely that Calgary will see Jonas Hiller tomorrow evening at the Honda Center.