Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier stretches to stop a shot by Flames forward… (Jeff McIntosh / Canadian…)
CALGARY, Canada -- The Kings turned their season around and launched themselves on the path to the Stanley Cup when they acquired forward Jeff Carter from Columbus last Feb. 23. This season, he’s almost singlehandedly sustaining their hopes of making the playoffs and giving them a chance to defend their title.
Trevor Lewis scored the Kings’ go-ahead goal against the Flames on Wednesday on the rebound of a shot by Carter, and Carter provided an insurance goal with a shot from the high slot off a pass by Mike Richards at 9:27 of the third period, key elements of the Kings’ 3-1 victory over the Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Kings finished this trip to Chicago, Edmonton and Calgary with a 2-1 record and have won four of their last five games. Their scoring hasn’t been plentiful, but that was true last season, too. However, after struggling at both ends of the ice early this season they’ve regained the knack of grinding out wins -- and they’re getting timely contributions from role players, a characteristic that boosted them last season.
Dustin Brown scored the first goal for the Kings (7-6-2) and defenseman Rob Scuderi contributed two assists. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 25 shots in extending his personal winning streak to three.
Unlike their games at Chicago and Edmonton, the Kings had a strong start on Wednesday. They took an early lead, let Calgary catch up and then regained the lead before the period ended on Lewis’ first goal this season.
Brown’s fourth goal this season and first in eight games gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 6:15. Anze Kopitar made a fine pass from behind the net and right to Brown, in the slot, and he didn’t miss. The second assist went to Scuderi.
Calgary pulled even at 14:51, capitalizing on mistakes by the Kings in their defensive zone. Jarome Iginla, who had been foiled in front of the net a few moments earlier, saw T.J. Brodie unchecked in the high slot and slid a pass to his young linemate. Brodie skated in a few strides before taking a wrist shot that eluded Bernier for Brodie’s first goal this season.
But the Kings bounced back quickly, when Lewis converted the rebound of a Carter shot from a sharp angle, at 15:20. Lewis had two assists at Edmonton on Tuesday and did well Wednesday on the left side with Mike Richards and Carter. Scuderi, not known for his scoring prowess, assisted on Lewis’ goal, too.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter mixed up his defense pairs and used Keaton Ellerby only rarely in the second period. Sutter kept Scuderi with Slava Voynov but had Jake Muzzin paired with Drew Doughty and also used Davis Drewiske with Doughty. Through two periods, Doughty had played 17 minutes, 58 seconds.
The lines were fairly consistent, with Lewis on the left alongisde Richards and Carter; Dustin Brown on the left with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams; Dustin Penner skating alongside Jarret Stoll and Dwight King, and an occasional fourth line of Kyle Clifford with Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan, though Clifford was on the ice for the third goal and got the second assist. As against Edmonton, Nolan didn’t play much as the game went on.
Top players such as Kopitar, Williams and Doughty still haven’t produced as often as they should, but Carter has been carrying more than his share of the load for the Kings so far.
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