Game 73: Kings survive near Flame-out by winning in shootout

Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings slips the puck between the pads of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of the Calgary Flames for a goal during shootout overtime in their NHL game at Staples Center on March 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Flames 2-1 in shootout overtime. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, left, and defenseman Drew Doughty, right, celebrate the Kings' win after a shootout against Calgary Flames in an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles on Monday, March 21, 2011. The Kings won 2-1. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok) Game 73: Kings 2, Flames 1 (shootout)

To peep out all the videos online about this game, check out today's Hockeywood Dailies.

Whenever the Kings and Flames get together, it's a battle. This season, all the games have been decided a goal. In fact, the first game they played this season may be 3-1 in the books, but the third goal was an empty-netter.

Calgary has a lot of grit up and down in their lineup, and a goaltender that has the Kings' number. Miikka Kiprusoff boasts a 17-6-3 record versus the Kings. Jarome Iginla, the long-rumored future King, leads the Burning C, and he can still bring it after 14 seasons. The Flames also have the odd-looking Olli Jokinen, who used to be a King, but now likes waffles. Nom nom nom.

The game was a defensive gem (once again). The Kings killed off all six Flames power plays, bring their recent streak to 35 straight PP kills. That's ten games without allowing a power play goals, that's impressive, right?

The PK unit has become the trademark for this Kings' squad, I now only cringe when they go on the power play. In that same 10-game timeframe, the Kings have only converted four PP goals out of 35 opportunities. That's 9 percent, and that's rounded up. Oof.

The game was exciting nonetheless. Staples Center was awash with playoff fever. And after losing to the Ducks in the 100th game of the SoCal Salchow, it seemed the fans were willing the team to a win. The shots were about even all game, until they got to the third period. That's when Jarret Stoll finally struck gold, when he scored his 19th of the season on a rebound from Brad Richardson.

But no sooner than David Courtney was finished announcing the goal over the loudspeakers, the waffle-eating Jokinen popped one past Jonathan Quick. Yup, another annoying goal scored a minute after the Kings score. For all the defensive-mindedness Coach Terry Murray seems to preach, you'd think they could work on that.

The game ended deadlocked, so on to the overtime. And with less than two minutes left, the Flames got a golden opportunity when the Kings were whistled for too many men on the ice. What?!? Too many men on the ice? There's only FOUR of them out there.

Getting called for too many men is frustrating playing five-on-five. But in overtime? My God, there's more ice out there than on Hoth, and the puck just happens to find the one Kings player who just skated on in relief of a spent defensemen. Oy vey.

So for 1:03, the Flames had a 4-on-3 power play. But like I said earlier, I wasn't worried. Turns out Jonathan Quick made three saves, and the Kings PK unit blocked two others to send the game to the shootout. That's just where the Kings wanted them.

Michal Handzus missed on his deke attempt on Kiprusoff, but both Stoll and Anze Kopitar scored on their attempts to give the Kings all the scoring they needed. Jonathan Quick improved to 8-for-8 in the shootout this season, despite giving up a wrister to Alex Tanguay and getting beat by Rene Bourque, only to be saved by the post. Curtis Glencross' errant shot sealed the Kings' 41st victory of the season.

This season, close games have been the norm for the Kings. They have gone 20-8-6 in one-goal games, and lifted their shootout record to 9-2. Not only that, but the Kings win the season series against the Flames, which may pay dividends in the playoffs. The Kings continue to tally points, earning 22 points in the past 26 games, going 17-4-5 during that time frame.

But for all this good news, the Kings got some very bad news near the end of the game. Justin Williams was run into the boards by Robyn Regehr, and left the ice with an apparent arm... er, upper body injury. The loss of Williams could prove deadly. Playing on that top line with Kopitar and Dustin Penner has provided the Kings that top line they had been missing all season.

I shudder to think if Williams is out for an extended period of time. I know Oscar Moller has been called up from Manchester, where he has had 50 points (23 G, 27A) in 59 games. With nine games left in the season, let's hope Williams is only dinged up.

Los Angeles Kings' Jarret Stoll celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles on Monday, March 21, 2011. The Kings won 2-1 in a shootout. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok) • AP: Quick, Kings beat Flames 2-1 in shootout
The Kings jumped two points ahead of Chicago into fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race. Calgary, with 85 points, is tied with Anaheim and Dallas—one point behind Chicago and Nashville with seven games remaining.
• LA Times: Jonathan Quick lifts Kings to shootout win with sharp effort
The Kings went from losing their fifth consecutive game at Staples Center to spending at least a day in fifth place after Stoll, Kopitar and goaltender Jonathan Quick gave them an 8-2 record in shootouts this season.
• LAKings.com: Flames extinguished as the Kings win in shootout
The road to the playoffs isn't over. The Kings can't even slow down enough to enjoy the scenery. But, at least for one night, they could exhale a bit and enjoy a critical victory, one that boosted their chances and put a dent in the chances of a close rival.
• NHL.com: Kings edge Flames in shootout
The Kings extended their streak of successful penalty kills to 35 by turning aside six Calgary power plays -- including one in the final 1:03 of overtime after a penalty for too many men on the ice. The franchise record is 46 straight, set in 2001-02 season.
Los Angeles Kings' Drew Doughty, right, checks Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla, left, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles on Monday, March 21, 2011. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)From across the aisle, the Calgary viewpoint

• Calgary Herald: Flames fail to find winning script in L.A.
The Calgary Flames, deep within the bowels of the Staples Center, were given every opportunity.  To moan. To cry.  To beat themselves up.  To mutter a discouraging word.  But they refused — despite what must have been overwhelming disappointment following Monday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
• Calgary Sun: Terrible Los
With how tight the playoff race has become, both teams were playing not to lose with tight-checking play at every turn, to the point it was nearly suffocating before the announced Staples Center sellout crowd of 18,118.
• Matchsticks and Gasoline: Kings of Tragedy
By all accounts the hockey being played in the Staples Center this evening was playoff hockey. With only 2 points seperating the two teams going into tonight, this was a must win for both teams, but a "muster" win for the Flames. Sitting in 10th spot in the West, the Flames desperately needed to rebound from last nights loss to the Ducks-- but unfortunately despite a well-fought game, the outcome just wasn't there.
The Los Angeles Kings celebrate a 2-1 shoot-out win over the Calgary Flames during the game at Staples Center on March 21, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)They said it
“There’s not much of a cushion there. You try not to look at the standings. You just take one game at a time and try to leave it out there, every time you play. Every game has been a playoff mentality, trying to get two points every time we’re out there. That’s all that matters, getting two points. There’s only nine games left, so we’ve got to keep winning games and keep trying to climb the ladder here.” – Jonathan Quick, on the tight playoff race.
“(Wayne Simmonds) does such good work down there, low, strong on the puck, moving his feet. He found Richie [Brad Richardson]. We were talking about it on the bench, that soft area, that we’ve got to start finding it. It was open there, for a lot of the game, and we just couldn’t really find it. Richie had a good shot and I just beat my guy to the net and had a rebound.” – Jarret Stoll, on his third-period goal.
“They’ve been charging toward the playoffs, and you know how big this game was. They have a good lineup, definitely, but we came out prepared. Obviously, you don’t want to give up the point—but as long as we get two the rest of the way, I don’t think it matters too much.” – Anze Kopitar, on the Flames.
“Williams is not OK, no. I haven’t got an update to tell you exactly what it is, but he’s not OK. He’s got an upper-body injury, and all I heard is that he will get to see the doctor tomorrow and get an evaluation and see where it’s at.” – Terry Murray, on Justin Williams’ status
 

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