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game recap

Conroy's goal lifts Flames to 2-1 win over Kings

Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:15 AM

Todd Kimberley - NHL.com Correspondent

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Conroy's goal lifts Flames to 2-1 win over Kings
Los Angeles Kings 1, Calgary Flames 2

CALGARY -- It was one of the easier goals he'll ever score. But Craig Conroy freely admitted he'd have taken anything.

Conroy, Calgary's elder statesman at age 38, ended the longest scoring drought of his 13-year NHL career with a gift goal Wednesday night as the Flames edged the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

"Everybody's been feeling sorry for the old guy. It was nice to get an empty-netter, although it felt like an eternity (watching) it go in," a grinning Conroy said after scoring his first of the season. "Later on, I'll say I went top corner on him.

"But I knew any way (of scoring) would be good, just to get one, get some confidence, and start rolling forward."

Conroy notched his first goal of the season on a scramble early in the second period. With Erik Ersberg, the Kings' surprise starting goaltender, trapped behind the net in a puck battle with Calgary's Rene Bourque, Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson attempted to sweep the puck out of harm's way. Instead, he put it right on Conroy's stick, and the Pengrowth Saddledome crowd of 19,289 erupted as the popular center chipped it into the empty net to break a 1-1 tie at 2:48.

It ended Conroy's 42-game goal-less stretch, including playoffs, that dated back to the Flames' 2008-09 regular-season finale on April 11 against Edmonton.

It also sparked a standing ovation.

"That was pretty special. I guess they were feeling bad for me," chuckled Conroy, a two-time Selke Trophy finalist who scored 27 goals in 2001-02 and 22 as a member of the Kings in 2005-06. "That was great. I really appreciated it. When you go as long as that, the fans could be booing me. But they're great here. That's why I love it."

The Flames (22-12-5) have won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 30, after losing three in a row and six of seven around the Christmas break. They kept pace with first-place Colorado (23-12-6) in the Northwest Division race. The Avs, who won 4-3 in Ottawa on Wednesday, are three points up on Calgary, although the Flames hold two games in hand.

A New Year's Eve win over the visiting Edmonton Oilers would allow the Flames to escape a rocky December with a .500 record.

While Calgary now sits in a tie for fifth in the Western Conference, the Kings (22-15-3) have dropped to eighth after a season-high four consecutive losses. They've dropped four of their past five on the road - and have lost nine in a row games at the Saddledome, dating to Dec. 21, 2005.

While the two clubs settled down in the latter half of the game, Wednesday's first period was brimming with animosity.

Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf was assessed a boarding major and a game misconduct just 5:26 into the first period after he wallpapered Kings center Anze Kopitar into the corner boards of the Calgary zone.

Kopitar made contact back-first, horizontally, with the back of his helmet hitting the dasher, and Phaneuf was immediately set upon by Ryan Smyth and Sean O'Donnell.

Kopitar continued to play, but the hit also stirred up emotions at both benches.

"That's one of the dirtier hits in the game," Kings coach Terry Murray said.

"A non-call," countered the Flames' Brent Sutter. "The icing's waved off, and it's a foot-race for the puck. It was an intense game tonight, and I'm not going to . . . become a real calm guy.

"There's times I am, but there's times I'm going to protect my players . . . let me rephrase that. I'll always protect my players."

Later in the first period, the rough stuff continued with L.A.'s Raitis Ivanans elbowing David Moss in the face and then sucker-punching the Flames forward. The ensuing melee triggered 18 more minutes in penalties. In all, 59 penalty minutes were doled out in the first period.

Bourque, who had a hat trick on Monday in Edmonton, opened the scoring at 6:21 of the first period, redirecting a long, lead pass from Jay Bouwmeester past Ersberg.

Scott Parse got the Kings even 15 seconds into the middle period with a low-angled shot from the left circle that found room under Miikka Kiprusoff's right arm.

But Conroy restored the Flames' one-goal advantage in short order, and the Kings couldn't find the equalizer. Dustin Brown misfired on a second-period penalty shot, and Kiprusoff came up big on a late third-period power play, holding off Smyth on a couple of frantic rebound shots after a high Kopitar point shot.

"It's the second half now. These are almost like playoff games," O'Donnell said. "You've got to make the other team earn their goals and get their chances.

"We're still learning. We've made some great strides. We're going in the right direction. And we're doing good things. We still make great plays. The last (step), going in the right direction, is not beating ourselves."

scoring summary
1st Period
06:21
CGY
Rene Bourque (14) Tip-in - ASST: Jay Bouwmeester (14), Adam Pardy (5)
1 - 0 CGY
2nd Period
00:15
LAK
Scott Parse (6) Wrist shot - ASST: Oscar Moller (2), Wayne Simmonds (13)
1 - 1 Tie
02:48
CGY
Craig Conroy (1) Wrist shot - ASST: Rene Bourque (19), Eric Nystrom (4)
2 - 1 CGY
3rd Period
NONE
penalty summary
1st Period
05:26
CGY
Dion Phaneuf  Boarding (maj) against  Anze Kopitar
05:26
LAK
Sean O'Donnell  Roughing against  Dion Phaneuf
05:26
LAK
Sean O'Donnell  Charging against  Dion Phaneuf
05:26
CGY
Dion Phaneuf  Game misconduct
10:51
LAK
Raitis Ivanans  Roughing against  David Moss
10:51
LAK
Raitis Ivanans  Roughing against  David Moss
10:51
LAK
Raitis Ivanans  Misconduct (10 min)
10:51
CGY
Aaron Johnson  Roughing against  Raitis Ivanans
10:51
LAK
Raitis Ivanans  Interference against  David Moss
11:41
LAK
Brad Richardson  Misconduct (10 min) against  Curtis Glencross
11:41
CGY
Curtis Glencross  Misconduct (10 min) against  Brad Richardson
17:24
LAK
Teddy Purcell  Tripping against  Nigel Dawes
2nd Period
03:03
CGY
Brandon Prust  Fighting (maj) against  Sean O'Donnell
03:03
LAK
Sean O'Donnell  Fighting (maj) against  Brandon Prust
03:19
LAK
Matt Greene  Hooking against  Fredrik Sjostrom
05:54
LAK
Drew Doughty  Roughing against  Rene Bourque
07:22
LAK
Wayne Simmonds  Slashing against  Rene Bourque
07:22
CGY
Rene Bourque  Slashing against  Wayne Simmonds
13:27
CGY
Robyn Regehr  Hooking against  Ryan Smyth
3rd Period
13:26
CGY
Olli Jokinen  Cross checking against  Dustin Brown
goalie stats
Erik Ersberg
SA: 21TOI: 59:41
Saves: 19EV: 12 - 14
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 7
SV%: .905SH: 0 - 0
Miikka Kiprusoff
SA: 24TOI: 60:00
Saves: 23EV: 18 - 19
PIM: 0PP: 4 - 4
SV%: .958SH: 1 - 1