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CALGARY 2, KINGS 1

Little things doom Kings again in 2-1 loss to Calgary

Another close but not thorough enough effort leads to their fourth consecutive loss. They are 0 for 3 on power plays and have converted only two of 22 over their last eight games.

December 31, 2009|Helene Elliott
  • Anze Kopitar, right, tries to pin Calgary's Jarome Iginla to the boards during the Flames' 2-1 victory over the Kings on Wednesday.
Anze Kopitar, right, tries to pin Calgary's Jarome Iginla to the boards… (Jeff McIntosh / Associated…)

Now it's getting serious.

Another close but not thorough enough effort by the Kings on Wednesday night became a 2-1 loss to the Flames, the same outcome by the same score as the Dec. 17 loss here that triggered a slide that has reached four straight losses and five of their last six games and has dropped them to eighth in the West.

Another sometimes sufficient effort by their top line produced a cumulative four shots, as many as small-bodied fourth-liner Oscar Moller took in a strong effort against a steady but rarely spectacular Miikka Kiprusoff in Calgary's net.

All of the Kings' last five games and 10 of their last 11 have been decided by one goal, and in the five games they have lost, small mistakes led to big setbacks.

On Wednesday, it was a misplay by backup goaltender Erik Ersberg behind his net that led to Calgary's second goal, scored by former King Craig Conroy at 2:48 of the second period.

Ersberg blamed himself, saying he boxed out one player but didn't see the second one coming. But the Kings might have overcome that if Dustin Brown hadn't lost control of the puck on a penalty shot he was generously awarded just over two minutes later.

Or if they had done anything with the power play they gained at 13:26 of the third. They were 0 for 3 Wednesday and have converted only two of 22 power plays over their last eight games. Overall, they have scored only 11 goals in their last six games.

"They're a physical team, but that's the NHL and that's why they're a good team and they play a playoff-type game," said first-line right wing Teddy Purcell, who has scored once in his last 34 games.

"For us to reach the next level, like we've all talked about that we're ready to do, we've got to find ways to win that game and battle through it and give it back to them."

The Flames won despite losing defenseman Dion Phaneuf to a game misconduct after he viciously slammed Anze Kopitar into the end boards at 5:26 of the first period. Kopitar said he was fine once he was able to catch his breath.

"We're going down for the puck and I'm reaching around trying to get the puck. He doesn't even think about the puck. You be the judge if that's a dirty hit," Kopitar said.

The hit led to a shouting match between Kings Coach Terry Murray and his Flames counterpart, Brent Sutter, and heightened the game's already nasty tone.

Sutter said it was a "non-call" because icing had been waved off. "It's a foot race for the puck," he said. "Tonight was an intense game and I'm not going to hide and think I'm a calm guy. There's times I am, and there's times I'm going to protect my players. Actually, I'll always protect my players."

Phaneuf echoed Sutter's explanation. "We're both going in hard to battle for the puck and that's all I'm going to say about that," he said.

Murray, working hard to maintain his calm when asked about the hit, said he was "saying happy new year" to Sutter. He didn't equivocate about the hit.

"Why did Phaneuf get thrown out of the game? Because it's in the rule book, right? That's one of the dirtier hits in the game," Murray said. "That's been addressed at the league level and that's why the referee called a game misconduct."

It was a bruising game, as contests against the Flames tend to be. Calgary scored first, during a four-on-four situation, at 6:21 of the first. Jay Bouwmeester created the chance by sending an excellent pass to Rene Bourque, who got behind Drew Doughty and redirected the puck past Ersberg.

The Kings pulled even 15 seconds into the second period when Scott Parse beat Kiprusoff to the short side, but Calgary regained the lead on Conroy's goal and never relaxed after that, defeating the Kings at home for the ninth straight time.

"We've got to learn how to play these games and we've got to learn how to win these games," said Ersberg, otherwise sharp in stopping 19 shots in his first appearance since Dec. 9 at San Jose.

"This is how it's going to be from now on, I think. Especially if we want to be a playoff team, we have to learn how to handle this."

A few more losses and modest offensive outputs and they'll go from the top of the West to out of the playoff picture.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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