Because it wouldn't be a Flames game without last minute lineup changes, uncle Bob did it again. Moments before puck drop, it was announced that Micheal Ferland was in and Matt Stajan was a last minute scratch.The starting lineup consisted of Joni Ortio in net, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie on the blue line, and Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett, and David Jones up front.
As expected, the LA Kings came out swinging last night and the Flames tried to keep up with their momentum, but the Kings controlled most of the play. Even though the Flames won most faceoffs, they couldn't generate many scoring chances. The Kings led the shots on net, but Joni Ortio, who got his first start since the end of October, tracked the puck well and refused any entry. Jakub Nakladal made important saves in front of the Flames net, solidifying his position on the team. The game was scoreless after the first period thanks mostly to Ortio's focus in net.
The second period was all Kings. The Flames couldn't generate any offense and even their defense needed some work. They couldn't clear the zone and, even when they did, it was tough for them to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Considering how little time the puck spent in the home team's zone, we probably all saw it coming - the Kings opened the scoring and took a 1-0 lead. Because of the pressure of the second line, the Flames got one back as Giordano, Joe Colborne, and Michael Frolik stepped up, created a good play, and drew a penalty that would cost the Kings. Mere seconds into the infraction, Johnny Gaudreau passed the puck to Jiri Hudler behind the net, who passed it up front to Sean Monahan and the Flames were on the board. That goal lit a fire under the Flames. They started fighting back with some pressure. Another King penalty gave the fandom hope until Frolik was jabbed with a ridiculous embellishment penalty as well. Lance took a puck to the face during this period, but he remained on the bench. The dagger in the period came when Gio took a holding penalty and Ortio could hold on only so long, the Kings taking the lead again with a power play goal. The score was 2-1 Kings after 40 minutes.
The Flames played a good third period, matching the pressure of the Kings. The Flames took control of the period, peppering Quick with shots. Monahan took chances, landing the puck on net, but Quick wouldn't allow anything through. Sam Bennett took advantage of a broken stick by one of the Kings defenders, but, again, Quick to the rescue. Jiri Hudler hit the post, Josh Jooris played hard, and Lance Bouma blocked shots like only he can. Tyler Wotherspoon, for being so big, skated well and played his man at the right time. For the most part, the Flames played a great period of hockey. They have a habit of giving us hope in the last five mins only to fall short and not be able to get the job done. Last night was exactly that. So much hope yet not quite enough pressure to make a difference on the scoreboard. The Kings won by a final score of 2-1.
Flame Of The Game
Joni Ortio. The first period gave us a taste of Ortio's confidence in net as he teaches the puck well and refused to allow anything through. He kept the Flames alive in the second period and he saved 35 of 37 shots throughout 60 minutes. He focused on the puck and made a great 2 on 1 save at the end of the game. I hope we see more Ortio in net again soon - he's earned it.
The Flames are heading home to take on the NY Islanders on Thursday.