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After a shaky outing against LA, the Flames are eager to get back to work against San Jose

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

Drawn in. Duped. Bamboozled.

The familiar boxing adage, as old as cauliflower ears, twisted bone cartilage and visible scar tissue, fit Wednesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome on a sheet of ice, too:

Styles make fights.

"And we didn't,'' confessed Mark Giordano, "play our style.''

Too slow.

No flow.

To toe-to-toe.

The Calgary Flames wanted the turntable humming along at 78 RPM.

The LA Kings kept it at 33 1/3.

The Flames sought weightlessness.

LA is all about gravity.

Old warrior Jarome Iginla, in possibly his final business visit to a workplace he dominated for a decade and a half, was nothing short of inspirational.

Captain Anze Kopitar turned his most familiarly Kopitar-ish performance in months. Everything about LA reeked of last stand.

But the Flames themselves, they willingly admitted in the game's aftermath, were every bit as culpable for the end result.

The ground they were battling on may have belonged to Glen Gulutzan's crew but the ground rules were inarguably set by Darryl Sutter's.

"We want to get more pace into the game, move the puck up the ice and we didn't do that,'' continued Giordano of the 4-1 loss that temporarily stalled clinching a playoff berth. "Then with all the power plays and penalties it slows the game right down.

"Give them credit. They dictated. They were more desperate than we were.

"It was a good lesson because there's a lot of emotion at this time of year, different types of games."

Video: Gulutzan talks about Wednesday's loss to the Kings

With the building abuzz with possible carryover from the Matthew Tkachuk-Drew Doughty incident of 10 days earlier, the Flames - to tuned-in though this - seemed uncharacteristically antsy right off the hop.

As if too preoccupied with what might (and did) happen.

Just 25 seconds in, Tkachuk dropped the mitts to draw Jake Muzzin into a scrap. Muzzin wouldn't be baited. Two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Tkachuk.

That's the kind of night it would be for the locals.

"We got caught up a little too much in some of the nonsense out there,'' confessed will-o-the-wisp left winger Johnny Gaudreau.

"Just stick to the way we play and we'll be all right."

Stops and starts. Pushing and shoving. Extra pokes and prods. Beaking and barking.

Video: Gaudreau comments on Wednesday's game against Kings

As a result, the game had all the flow of being trapped in Santa Monica Freeway traffic on a holiday-weekend at Friday rush hour.

"We can't get caught up in all that other …. stuff,'' echoed winger Kris Versteeg, with a soft shake of the head. "LA's a big, strong, physical team that plays the game hard and likes to get you wrapped in their game.

"We let them do that to us.

"We're a really good team and we know that. I don't think there should be any worry or panic.

"We lost a game. We didn't play the way we needed to and we understand that. Our goal is still to clinch first - hopefully we do that Friday - and go from there."

The power play, which was addressed extensively during Thursday meetings, went scoreless, and virtually chance-less, through six tries. The big line of Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland, so electrifying of late, was well marshalled by LA.

"We just weren't very good,'' conceded Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan, with a 'one of those nights, they happen' shrug. 

"There's going to be a lot of emotion, like last night and then moving forward, against Anaheim and San Jose. All emotionally charged games.

"I think we need to do a better job of having better discipline over emotion. We took five or six minors (Wednesday) night and that just can't happen.

"It wrecks the flow of the game for us. We like to use our speed and our four lines and that, the lack of flow, took both those things away.

"We have to manage that better."

On Friday, a second chance to clinch a second playoff berth with the ZZ Top boys, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, and the rest of the San Jose Sharks - like the Kings, arriving on the second half of back-to-backs - come calling.

There'll be no retribution subplot hanging over their heads off the hop this time. And the boys in teal rely on a more speedy, fluid game than the sandpapery, erosive Kings.

"They're a quick team,'' agreed Giordano. "A lot of firepower. You don't want to be putting them on the power play. But we've just got to get back to our style. Stay confident. We've done a lot of good things here in the last little while.

"Now a bounce-back. In playoffs, you lose one you've got to come back the next night and win.

"That's got to be our mindset."

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