From Calgary, Canada — Consider this: Kings center Anze Kopitar, an established, top-flight player in his fifth NHL season, has yet to win a game in Calgary.
Kopitar set up a goal Sunday with a long shot that was tipped past Miikka Kiprusoff by Dustin Brown, but that wasn't enough to keep the Flames from grinding out a 3-1 victory and extending the Kings' losing streak here to 10 games.
The Kings haven't prevailed at the Flames' home arena — recently rechristened the Scotiabank Saddledome, its fourth name — since Dec. 21, 2005. Only Brown has won a game here as a King.
"For some reason when we come here, always, Kiprusoff stands on his head," Kopitar said, though the Flames' goaltender rarely had to resort to acrobatics Sunday in stopping 21 shots.
"In my four years and a half here I don't remember us scoring more than three goals, I think. We're going to have to bring that number up a little bit."
A lot, actually. His setup for Brown produced the Kings' first five-on-five goal this season and stirred reminders of their weakness in that area last season. In their season opener Saturday at Vancouver they had scratched out a 2-1 victory with a power-play goal and a shootout triumph. "We're going to have to pick it up offensively, for sure," Kopitar said.
In several other areas too, if they expect to win their home opener Tuesday against Atlanta and many more games after that.
Their downfall Sunday was allowing the Flames to score while short-handed. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson turned the puck over to Brett Sutter — who was put on waivers last week by his father, Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter — and Sutter fed Curtis Glencross for a slick backhander that got past Jonathan Bernier at 11:31 of the second period.
In the third period, about 35 seconds after Jarret Stoll hit the post, former King Craig Conroy padded Calgary's lead to 2-0. He used Davis Drewiske as a screen for a shot from the right wing that deflected off Drewiske's stick and changed direction enough to surprise Bernier.
"I felt like I was playing him square on the puck," Bernier said, "and when the puck got in I looked on my stick and I felt I was off a little bit. He said he felt his stick got hit."
Drewiske said he tried to get a stick on Conroy. "That was a tough one for Bernie. Nine times out of 10 it deflects in the corner," Drewiske said. "It was still a good shot. It had speed. I'll just try to have a better gap on him next time."
The Kings pulled within a goal at 14:06 of the third on Brown's close-in tip, but Brad Richardson short-circuited their comeback hopes when he took a bad high-sticking penalty with 1:35 to go. The Kings pulled Bernier but never mustered any pressure, and Niklas Hagman scored into the empty net with 22.4 seconds left to make the Flames' home opener a victorious occasion in what has become, by any name, a house of horrors for the Kings.
Kings Coach Terry Murray said he was happy with his team's performance for the first 30 minutes or so but was critical of the missteps that followed.
"I thought the first half of the game was good. Unfortunately we gave that game to them with opportunities on the power play, the short-handed goal and then the second goal with a turnover trying to make a cute play inside the offensive blue line and they come right back at us," Murray said.
Nor was he pleased with his players' lack of discipline at crucial times. "Giving up power plays is something you've got to try and stay away from," he said. "Stuff is going to happen. Tonight we gave them the opportunities that I felt were careless plays."
Murray said he would review the game before deciding whether to change his lineup for Tuesday's game against the Thrashers at Staples Center. Drewiske suggested the most important changes might be mental rather than personnel-related.
"I don't think it's our best game tonight," he said, "but you've got to give them credit and be ready for Tuesday and be a lot more detailed in every aspect of the game."