Flames hand L.A. Kings first loss of season in painful fashion – Daily News


LOS ANGELES — Wednesday night was a perfect cross-section of the Kings.

The team that has missed the playoffs two of the last three years fell into a two-goal hole courtesy of the younger, faster Calgary Flames.

Dustin Brown, an apt representative of the team’s aging demographic, gave the Kings a lead with a pair of third period goals that incited hope the Kings have plenty left in the tank.

But their much-hyped Pacific Division foe eventually ran the Kings down, tying the game with nine minutes left in regulation and stealing a 4-3 overtime win that reinforced concerns with which the Kings’ entered the season.

“It wasn’t the greatest start, but we picked ourselves up,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “We just can’t give away leads.”

Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk scored twice, including the game-tying goal with 9:01 left in regulation after beginning a two-goal flurry by Calgary in the game’s first eight minutes that ultimately cost the Kings dearly.

Kopitar breathed life into the Kings late in the second period with his third goal of the young season to begin a seven-minute stretch the Kings began with a two-goal deficit and ended with a one-goal lead. The first indication the game was tilting came when the Kings successfully killed a four-minute roughing penalty during which the Flames could hardly set up in their offensive zone.

“The four-minute kill was obviously huge,” Kopitar said. “It was pretty soon after that we started playing the game we want to play, in their zone, cycle, jump into open areas to score goals.”

Brown redirected two shots into the net in the first two minutes of the third period to give the Kings a 3-2 advantage and ignite the sellout crowd of 18,230 at Staples Center for a what would be a heated third period between two franchises largely perceived to be headed in opposite directions.

The infamous elbow Tkachuk delivered to Drew Doughty’s face last season sparked a rivalry that has clearly carried over into this season.

It was another hit on Doughty Wednesday night that ignited a series of skirmishes and four penalties in the game’s final five minutes, this a questionable check into the boards delivered by Calgary’s Michael Frolik.

At one point, Tkachuk and Doughty were involved in a heated verbal exchange from opposite penalty boxes.

“Especially within our division, we want to stand our ground,” Kopitar said. “Obviously there’s some push back that needs to happen and it did.”

Neither team was able to take advantage of the penalties to untie the score in the game’s final nine minutes.

It was Calgary’s Sean Monahan who scored the game winner 1:02 into overtime to send the Kings home without a win for the first time in three games.

“Big win. We showed a lot of persaverence,” Tkachuk said. “They’ve got a lot of guys that are passionate and all that, so it makes for a division rivalry. They’re right up there with the Edmontons and all them. Those are passionate games to play.”

After Tkachuk’s power play goal in the fourth minute of the game, Calgary surged to a 2-0 lead thanks to some beautiful stick handling by Johnny Gaudreau, who drew the attention of both Doughty and Jake Muzzin to leave Frolik open for a slam dunk 7:47 into the game.

The Kings started slow in two of their three games this season, something coach John Stevens is none too pleased with.

“We were a little slow in our thought process, a little slow with the puck,” Stevens said. “Not taking the ice when it was there to take, we just allowed their forecheck pressure to turn pucks over and spend too much time in our zone.”

Kopitar’s third goal in the last two games pulled the Kings within 2-1 late in the second period and incited some needed momentum. Muzzin collected a loose puck and quickly shoveled it to the Kings captain at the top of the left circle from where Kopitar’s low-flying wrist shot found its way through traffic and ricocheted off the far post into the net with 4:16 left in the second period.

The Kings needed all of 14 seconds to confirm the momentum carried into the third period when  Brown redirected a Doughty shot from just inside the blue line past Flames goalie Mike Smith to tie the game, 2-2. The assist by Doughty represented his first point of the season and rookie Alex Iafallo’s assist on the goal was the first point of his NHL career.

Just a minute and 45 seconds later, Brown did it again. This time the winger redirected a slow-moving Derek Forbort shot past a flummoxed Smith to give the Kings a 3-2 lead.

“We were connecting it all together probably toward the last five minutes of the second when we started making plays,” Brown said. “We had a couple good looks before Kopi scored and just kind of rolled it into the third period.”

Winger Kyle Clifford was injured early in the second period. After taking a hit in the corner, the veteran skated to the bench clutching his left arm, immediately disappeared into the locker room and never returned. He was wearing a sling after the game, but Stevens had no additional information about his injury following the game.

Lost in the rivalry was the season debut of 45-year-old Jaromir Jagr, who signed a one-year deal with the Flames a week earlier. The second-leading scorer in NHL history to only Wayne Gretzky was relatively quiet in 13:53 of ice time, but could add a complimentary veteran presence this season to a young Calgary lineup that could be a force in the Western Conference.

Meanwhile, the Kings are trying to prove their aging roster has retained enough stars still in their prime to make another run at a Stanley Cup.





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