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5 THINGS - FLAMES @ KINGS

Flames visit Kings in second of a three-game road trip

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

FLAMES (49-23-7; 105 PTS) at LA KINGS (29-40-9; 67 PTS)

8 p.m. | TV: Sportsnet West | RADIO: Sportsnet 960 The FAN

Season Series: 2-1-0

All-time: 123-92-21-6

Flames Road Record: 23-14-2

Kings Home Record: 16-20-3

Leading Scorers:

Flames:

Points - Johnny Gaudreau (96)
Goals - Gaudreau (35)

Kings:

Points - Anze Kopitar (57)
Goals - Kopitar, Dustin Brown (21)

 

US

The Flames locked up the Pacific Division crown with a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks last night, and have guaranteed themselves home-ice advantage for at least the first three rounds of the playoffs. Sean Monahan , Mark Jankowski , Dalton Prout , Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik supplied the offence, while Mike Smith made 12 saves to help the Flames collect their 49th win of the season - the second-most in franchise history, next to the 1988-89 Stanley Cup-winning edition. "We've had a good year, a good regular season, but we know the work that's ahead," said captain Mark Giordano , who had another Norris-worthy night on the blueline with an assist, three hits, four blocks, and more than 24 minutes of impeccable ice time. "But we won't take this for granted. It's an accomplishment to finish first in the West, it's not an easy thing to do. We'll enjoy it, but we'll get geared up for the playoffs now." … The division title is Calgary's first in 13 years is only the fourth time in franchise history the club will finish the regular season as the conference's No. 1 seed (1987-88, 1988-89 and 1989-90 were the others). … The Flames are now guaranteed to play the second wild-card team in the opening round of the playoffs. The Colorado Avalanche currently hold a one-point lead on the Arizona Coyotes for that spot with one game in hand, and four games left. The Sharks, meanwhile, will host the third-seeded Vegas Golden Knights. … Sam Bennett could return to the lineup after missing the past five games with an upper-body injury. … David Rittich is likely to get the start in goal. … Following tonight's matchup, the Flames will finish up the road portion of the regular-season schedule on Wednesday in Anaheim before returning home and closing out the campaign on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. "We're almost to the starting line," said head coach Bill Peters.

 

Tweet from @NHLFlames: .@CortexBusiness Transaction Alert: The #Flames have recalled defenceman Juuso Valimaki from the @AHLHeat. https://t.co/QEb8pOPM9L

 

THEM

The Kings are coming off a 3-2 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday to finish the month off with a tidy, 4-1-1 record. Drew Doughty crushed home the winner on a powerplay with only 12 seconds remaining in OT after Michael Amadio scored late to force the extra period. Austin Wagner had the other goal for LA, while Jack Campbell made 33 saves as the Kings won for the third time in as many tries against the Hawks this year. "I thought, all night, we were battling," Kings coach Willie Desjardins told LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen. "I think that's your leadership in your room, where it doesn't matter where things are going, you're always looking at the next shift, you're always looking at finding a way." … Ilya Kovalchuk (healthy scratch) was not in the lineup on Saturday and has now gone six straight games dating back to Mar. 18 at Winnipeg without an appearance. The 35-year-old has 31 points (14G, 17A) in 60 games this year, but the relationship between him and his head coach appears tenuous, at best. "There's a good chance we'll see him here soon," Desjardins said. … Despite their strong play of late, the Kings remain in last place in the West with only 67 points - nine back of their SoCal cousins, the Anaheim Ducks. … Dustin Brown - who made his debut with the Kings back in 2003 and wore the 'C' for eight years, including a pair of Cup-winning campaigns - passed Dave Taylor to become the club's all-time franchise leader in regular-season games played with 1112 on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks. Tonight, the Kings will hold a special pre-game ceremony in Brown's honour. … Captain Anze Kopitar, meanwhile, has also achieved a major career milestone and will dress in his 1000th NHL game tonight. The 31-year-old has 885 points (311G, 574A) in 999 career games - all with the Kings, who drafted him with the 11th pick in 2005. Kopitar will become the 337th player in NHL history to achieve the silver-stick landmark. … Brendan Leipsic, who suffered a lower-body injury on Mar. 21 against the Sharks, has not yet returned to the ice. With only four games and less than a week left in the schedule, it's unlikely the former Portland Winterhawk star will play again this year. Leipsic, 24, was acquired by the Kings earlier this season and has amassed 18 points (5G, 13A) in 45 games.

 

US VS. THEM

This is the fourth and final meeting and the second in seven days between these two Pacific rivals. The Kings took a 3-0 win last Monday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, but the Flames won the two previous encounters, 1-0 on Nov. 10 at Staples Center, and a 4-1 home-ice victory on Nov. 30. Smith has turned aside 30 of 33 shots for a .909 save percentage in two appearances, while Rittich stopped all 21 shots he faced to record the shutout in that 1-0 victory. … Backlund (2-1-3) leads the Flames in head-to-head scoring, followed closely by Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk (0-2-2).

 

THIS, THAT & THE OTHER

THIS: The Flames are closing out their 10th and final back-to-back set of the season tonight. With last night's win, the Flames finish with a record of 9-1-0 in the first game, and currently have a 4-5-0 mark in the back half. ... THAT: With a pair of helpers on Sunday, Johnny Gaudreau now has 96 points on the year. He has career-highs in both goals (35) and assists (61), and his sixth in league scoring behind only Nikita Kucherov, Connor McDavid, Patrick Kane, Leon Draisaitl and Brad Marchand. ... THE OTHER: Monahan has 20 points (6G, 14A) in his last 19 road games.

 

Video: Flames clinch top West seed with 5-3 defeat of Sharks

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Flames - Noah Hanifin

Hanifin brings a three-game point streak into tonight's contest after picking up an assist in Sunday's win over the Sharks. With that, the 22-year-old has now set a new career high with his 33rd point (5G, 28A) of the season. Hanifin - the fifth pick in the 2013 Draft - has increased his offensive production in each of his first four years.

Kings - Tyler Toffoli

It's been a bit of a down year for the former 30-goal scorer, but Toffoli has points in four of his last five games, and had a fight with former teammate and current Flames defenceman Oscar Fantenberg in the teams' last meeting.

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