Kings Flame out, limp into holiday break

Los Angeles King's Dustin Brown, left, hits Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla near the Kings' bench during first-period NHL hockey game action in Calgary on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Larry MacDougal)
Game 37: Flames 2, Kings 1

The Kings finally played their last game before their extended Christmas holiday Thursday. However, the game's outcome probably made them feel a little less than Randy Newman (I love L.A.) and more like Randy Quaid (Merry Christmas, sh***er's full.)

It certainly wasn't for lack of trying. The Kings ran into the buzzsaw that is Miikka Kiprusoff, he of the 2.14 goals against average and .930 save percentage. The Kings pumped 35 shots at the Flames' netminder, and he turned all but one away: Corey Elkins' first NHL goal late in the game.

But it wasn't like the Flames outplayed the Kings, the game had see-sawed back and forth in the first period, until Dion Phaneuf's fluke (that's right, I said fluke) power-play goal somehow beat the buzzer and Quick with less than a second to go. O.K., maybe it wasn't a fluke, but those types of goals you just have to forget about it and move on.

And move on the Kings did, shrugging off set up shop around Kiprusoff the rest of the game. Justin Williams led the charge with seven shots, followed by Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar's six shots each paced a 27-shot barrage L.A. launched against Calgary.

The Flames did an outstanding job trying to slow down the Kings' young stars. Kopitar was constantly hounded by Robin Regehr all game, and Dustin Brown was hammered repeatedly by Mark Giordano. And early in the third period, Calgary scored again when Nigel Dawes made it 2-0.

And rather than deflating the Kings, a team that will have a huge, nine day break starting Friday, it seemed to spur them on further. The momentum was solidly in L.A.'s corner the rest of the game, but could only muster one goal. All in all, a solid effort by L.A. and one that should stick in their craws all holiday long.

This type of loss should fester in the Kings' all Christmas long.  Can you imagine the rage building in Doughty, whose late interference penalty led to Phaneuf's goal? How about the frustration building in Kopitar, who continued to battle through adversity even as he was being forced into the boards by Regehr all game long? And how about the anger swelling in Dustin Brown, usually the giver of huge hits but became the recipient of several solid checks?

The Kings were right in this game, even with several key members of the squad sitting out injured. Players like Elkins, Oscar Moller, Alec Martinez and Scott Parse, theese are call-ups from Manchester. They played right with the Flames all game, but were unable to reach that final step and tie the game and earn that point. Christmas might be all green and red, but the Kings should be seeing blood red. One can only hope that when they step foot on the ice the day after Christmas against Phoenix, they will unleash their fury on an unsuspecting league.

• AP: Kiprusoff helps Flames beat Kings
Kiprusoff was rested Tuesday night in St. Louis after being peppered with 81 shots in his two previous starts.
• LATimes: Kings regret a few things in 2-1 loss to Calgary
They competed relentlessly with a lineup full of players who were riding buses in the minor leagues a few days or weeks ago, not giving an inch to a team that must have been salivating at a roster full of so many untried and unfamiliar names.
• Elkins gets first in loss
The loss, coupled with San Jose’s victory over Anaheim, dropped the Kings from first place to fourth in the Western Conference. Now, with eight days off before their next game, the Kings must sit and watch as other West teams get the chance to pick up points.
• Hard-hitting Flames edge Kings
"The first one was the one that upset me a little bit; (Giordano) had a chance to go shoulder on shoulder, and (went) for the head. All you hear about is head shots," said Dustin Brown. "After that, his other three hits on me were good, clean, hockey hits."
• Yahoo: Team report

They said it
"I felt it, at the end of the second period, that we were going to win this game. I felt like we seemed to have them tired and we seemed to have a jump on them all night. They got a quick goal in the third period, yeah, and that was somewhat deflating, just like their first goal, but we felt like we kept at it and we had a real chance to do it." – Justin Williams, on staying in the game.
"Well, it’s always the winning goal that hurts. Both are difficult goals. The first one, on the faceoff, with three seconds left, if we just come and close quickly and just go right at him, don’t even hesitate, go right to him right away, there is no shot at the net. So you can look at that and say, `Man, with seven-tenths of a second left, that’s a hard one to swallow.’ " – Terry Murray, on which Calgary goal hurt more.
Around the Kingdom

• MayorsManor: A Rubber Match, of sorts
It wont be easy. Not only is LA all banged up, putting the line combinations in disarray; they're also finishing up a horrific part of the schedule where they will have played six games in nine nights. Not to mention the fact that the Flames have beaten the Kings in their last seven trips to Calgary.
• The Royal Half: Manchester misfits
Fine. So the Los Angeles Kings lost 2-1. But they really won. Because this team showed all of Canada exactly how much heart it had. With some of their best players out with injuries, this group of Manchester Misfits nearly won this game.
• Kings minus five battle but fall to the Flames
No excuses.  No woe is me.  From the drop of the puck, the Kings battled and while the game finished with a Flames victory 2-1, there isn’t a Kings fan that should look back at this game and feel anything other than pride in our boys’ heart and hustle.
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: Kiprusoff the Difference as Flames End 3 Game Skid 2-1
Is this the “depth” Dean Lombardi was talking about, or are these players stop-gap measures until Stoll, Simmonds, Johnson and Smyth all heal? Or is there a deal to be had before tomorrow’s holiday trade freeze. Who wouldn’t want an early Christmas gift of being traded to a first place team?
• Kings Kool-Aid: That Was One of the Best Losses I Have Ever Seen
By the way, I don’t think the clock started when the puck dropped on that first Calgary goal. But whatever. Kings lose and drop down to ten games above .500.
•  Inside Hockey: Kings making noise in the West
Aside from the respect the club is gaining, the proof of the capability of this team is on the ice. They have gone ahead by leaps and bounds of expectations so far in 2009-10.
• Bleacher Report:  Kings of the West: Is this the Anticipated Coming-Out Party?
I usually laugh off postseason experience arguments, but I think for a very young, very promising team, a long postseason run would be nice, but not needed.
From across the aisle, the Calgary viewpoint

• Calgary Sun: Win over Kings ends short skid
 Battering their captain around, blueliner Mark Giordano did his best Phaneuf impression while battling Dustin Brown. Two of the four hits he landed on Brown were of the bone-rattling variety.
• Calgary Herald: Flames end royal losing streak with victory over Kings
With half a dozen regulars sidelined, stuck playing their 10th match in 17 nights, the Kings would have appreciated a pleasantly uneventful get-together. You know, a nice 60-minute sashay. Let the best power play win.
• Matchsticks and Gasoline: Flames/Kings Post Game: You Just Keep Me Hangin' On
Quality, and it was on one of the rare shifts that pitted Langkow's line against Anze Kopitar's group. That matchup of Langkow-Bourque-Dawes versus the other team's best isn't one that Sutter seems willing to default to, and other coaches will still try to run their big guns at Iginla's line, but at some point, results have to kick in
Peeping the dailies

Here's a video (courtesy of The Royal Half) of the Anze Kopitar feature, that was shown between the second and third period


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