Mikael Backlund scored a beauty late in the game to break the shutout for Jonathan Quick, but it wasn't enough, as Dustin Brown would score an empty-net goal to secure back-to-back victories for the Kings over the Flames.
Well, Joey MacDonald and the Flames allowed half as many goals last night than they did in Saturday's loss to the Kings, but it was still three too many, considering they were only able to put one past Quick in the dying minutes of the game.
With Mark Giordano in the penalty box for the Flames, his nemesis Dustin Brown scored on the powerplay just over five and a half minutes in to give the Kings a 1-0 advantage. Four minutes later, former Oiler Jaret Stoll would score at even strength to double the home team's lead, despite the fact that the Flames had more shots on goal and more scoring chances than LA in the first period.
Despite the fact that the Kings were frequently dominant in the middle frame, that would be all the scoring that would take place until late in the third period.
The Flames again outshot the Kings in the final frame and heartily out-chanced them 6-0, and eventually they broke through when Mikael Backlund undressed Alec Martinez with some dirty dangles and put the puck five-hold on Quick:
That's the Backlund we all know and love. I commented about how he didn't look like he'd really lost a step in my last recap, and that trend continued last night. He also won 70% of his draws in the faceoff circle, which I'm sure has allowed Matt Stajan to breathe a little easier.
After Backlund's goal brought the Flames within one, they pulled MacDonald in an attempt to tie the game and force overtime, but alas, the Kings regained possession and the Flames' play in their own zone came back to haunt them. After TJ Brodie and Jay Bouwmeester couldn't clear the puck, Brown scored again into the empty net to preserve the regulation win for his team.
TJ Brodie wasn't awful on the top pairing by any means. He was his typical self for the most part, jumping into the play and making nice breakout passes, but I think he got a little lucky when the Kings were controlling the play in the second period. There was one play where he lost the puck in the neutral zone/near the offensive blueline, which created a bit of a shooting gallery in the Flames' zone. When he got back to try and cover for his mistake, he was sliding all over the place trying to block the shot. That sequence and being unable to get the puck out with an empty net in the final minute of the game were the only times I really noticed him in a negative way.
If Brodie can play top two, maybe that does make a guy like Mark Giordano more expendable, who knows. I'm still terrified Brodie will be traded or offer-sheeted to some outrageous amount this summer and the Flames will let him walk because they don't realize his value.
Anyway, the Flames are now at the halfway point of their season and are one game below .500 and six games out of a playoff spot. With less than a month and only ten games before the trade deadline, the Flames are looking up at every other team in the Western conference and I'm not sure that any game can really be considered one they "should" win anymore.
But if they continue to play the way they did for most of the game last night, they might win more than they lose, assuming they get some bounces along the way.