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Kings get ahead and, for once, stay there

A team with a habit of blowing leads holds onto one against an NHL power, the Calgary Flames -- the latest sign of progress for the improving Kings.

December 08, 2009|Helene Elliott
  • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty lifts the puck past Calgary's Daymond Langkow in the second period Monday night.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty lifts the puck past Calgary's Daymond… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

The Kings built a lead and held onto it.

What a concept.

After squandering leads in three straight games the Kings made life a little easier for themselves Monday. Although they were outshot by Calgary in the third period, the Kings made a second-period goal by Jarret Stoll hold up for a 2-1 victory over the Flames at Staples Center.

Of course, it wasn't easy. For the Kings progress rarely comes without a close call and some frayed nerves.

Jonathan Quick stopped 26 shots, including 13 in the third period, to end the Kings' five-game losing streak against the Flames, who were finishing a wicked six-game trip but still had the energy to use their size and physicality and become dangerous down low.

The Flames outshot the Kings, 13-4, in the third period and ended their journey 4-2, with losses to the Coyotes and Kings mixed in among victories over the Red Wings, Blue Jackets, Predators and Sharks.

"That's a great Calgary Flames team there that we just played against," Quick said. "They're one of the better teams in the conference if not the league. It's good to have a great showing against a team like that. Everyone battled hard. It was a great game for everyone."

The Kings (18-10-3) have earned standings points in five straight games and six of their last seven. That's remarkable considering the goal famines that continue to envelop Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Their depth saved them again as they reached the fourth game in a taxing sequence of 10 games in 17 days in six cities.

Kopitar, the NHL's top scorer a few weeks ago, hasn't scored a goal in 13 games. Brown, who scored 24 goals last season and 33 in the 2007-08 season, is 0 for 14 and stuck at six goals.

The Kings scored first, again getting a goal from a support player. The Flames matched that before the first period ended. The Kings produced only three shots in the period, one more than their season low.

The Kings scored their first goal two seconds after the end of a power play. Scott Parse took a nice pass from Michal Handzus and patiently held on long enough to confound goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. After getting past one defender and outreaching another, Parse took a shot and ended up flying through the air as it beat Kiprusoff at 8:54.

"Not a lot of guys can do that," Kings Coach Terry Murray said. "Having the poise to hold the puck and taking it to the net is pretty courageous."

The Flames pulled even at 15:39. Former King Craig Conroy made a fine, short pass to Curtis Glencross toward the left wide of the slot, and Glencross had an easy time getting away from Jack Johnson to slip a back-hander past Quick.

The Kings regained the lead at 4:34 of the second period, during a power play. Brown helped set it up with a pass from behind the net to Justin Williams at the left-wing boards. Williams fed a centering pass to Stoll, who deftly redirected the puck so it rose just over Kiprusoff's left arm.

Defenseman Rob Scuderi, back in the lineup after missing nine games because of an ankle injury, said Quick was the difference for the Kings. But Scuderi found another difference to explain why the Kings were able to protect their lead this time.

"When you have a lead it's a case of not beating yourself," said Scuderi, who said he was rusty but didn't think of his now-healed ankle.

Not letting the Flames come back and take control of the game as they did here on Nov. 21 in a 5-2 victory was another step forward for a still-learning Kings team.

"The last minute and a half there when the game was on the line and they had an empty net I don't think they got the puck in our zone," Quick said. "They're a great team and find ways to turn every chance into a scoring opportunity and we were ready to face that challenge."

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