We had a plan but tonight our execution was simply not good enough. Theirs was better than us. Tonight was simple to analyze this game. They played like Stanley Cup Champions tonight. - Bob Hartley
LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Los Angeles Kings are the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Calgary Flames found out why Thursday.
The Kings, now winners of three straight, managed to pull three points within Calgary for the second of two wild-card spots in the Western Conference with a convincing 5-3 win over the Flames at Staples Center.
Breaking down the loss wasn’t hard for Calgary coach Bob Hartley.
“We had a plan but tonight our execution was simply not good enough,” Hartley said. “Theirs was better than us. Tonight was simple to analyze this game. They played like Stanley Cup Champions tonight.”
Though Tyler Toffoli’s first of three on the night staked the Kings to a 1-0 lead, goals from David Jones and Mason Raymond gave the Flames the edge heading late into the second. But Toffoli’s second with 16 seconds left in the period and Dwight King’s marker 59 seconds into the third gave Los Angeles all the momentum they would need to cruise to victory in the crucial Pacific Division match-up.
Goals from Jordan Nolan and another from Toffoli couldn’t be erased by Raymond’s second of the night in the late stages of the game as the Flames wild-card gap slimmed.
“They outplayed us for most of that game,” said forward David Jones, who’s crew was outshot 45-18. “They brought their ‘A Game’. They played real well. It’s tough. We were really close going into the third and then just a few mistakes and it was in the back of our net. We’ve just got to put a full effort in, every guy. They’ve got so much talent on their team and when they turn it up like that they’re tough to play with.”
Outplayed and outworked, Kris Russell noted.
“They outworked us in the third and for most of the game too,” Russell said. “They outshot us. It was close to 50 and we had a few over 10. Against a team like that you’re not going to win.
“I thought [Jonas Hiller} played good too, that’s the worst part. We hung him out to dry and he didn’t deserve that.”
On his 33rd birthday, Hiller made 35 saves -- many of the highlight reel variety -- before giving way to Karri Ramo midway through the third.
Hiller’s effort wasn’t enough to slow the Kings, who now have taken six straight points to rebound after a stretch that saw them win just once in a span of eight games.
Their roll continued at Calgary’s expense.
“They were the better team. It’s plain and simple,” Hartley said. “They came out on a mission and they gave us a tough night. There’s no detour about it. They bottled us in our zone and we couldn’t find a way to get out. We got the lead. That goal late in the second really hurt us. It gave them the momentum and usually in the third period we are very good.
“But tonight we had no answers.”
Russell expects his team to find some with another key divisional matchup waiting in the Vancouver Canucks.
“We can learn from this,” he said. “That’s the Stanley Cup Champions and they played like that tonight. If we want to be a team that competes at the end of the year we’ve got to compete at that level and it starts Saturday.”