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GILLIES STANDS TALL

Towering rookie backstops Flames to win over Kings in NHL debut

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood isn't a bad place for a youngster trying to make his mark.
 
Worked for Jon Gillies, after all.
 
Gillies made 27 saves in his NHL debut to help the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Thursday.
 
"Honestly, it's in LA, which was my favourite team until I got drafted by the Flames," Gillies said. "It's a building I watched a lot of hockey in online when I was in college and stuff like that. 
 
"Most of all, it's that my parents were able to be here and my little brother was able to be here and three of my four very best friends in the entire world were able to fly out. That means the world to me."

Gillies, selected in the third round (No. 75) of the 2012 NHL Draft, is the fifth goaltender in Flames franchise history to win his NHL debut and first since Reto Berra on Nov. 3, 2013, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Video: CGY@LAK: Gillies sprawls to deny Forbort in NHL debut
 
"He was great," defenceman Dennis Wideman said. "He played great. He made a lot of big saves. He looked really comfortable. We're happy for him. It's his first game. First game, first win. It was great for him and I'm sure he was really excited."
 
Wideman, Sam Bennett, Freddie Hamilton and Alex Chiasson scored for the Flames, who remain tied with the Nashville Predators for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. Each team has 94 points with one game remaining. Calgary has two more regulation/overtime wins.
 
"You want to win every game you can," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think Saturday, we want to ramp it up for the guys that are playing. We want to ramp it up and make sure we're playing the same way that game as we're going to play in Game 1. It's a big game. We can use it that way. We just want to play the way we need to play to win."

Trevor Lewis scored and Ben Biship made 20 saves for the Kings.

Video: CGY@LAK: Bennett sweeps home one-timer for PPG
 
Bennett scored on the power play 4:57 into the game when he one-timed a pass from Mikael Backlund over Bishop's pad to put the Flames up 1-0.
 
Gillies made his first NHL save on Tyler Toffoli just 29 seconds later, but Lewis scored at 6:13 to tie the game 1-1 with a shot far side over Gillies' pad.
 
"I settled down the most was after they scored," Gillies said. "I kind of chuckled to myself. 'Welcome.' From there on out, I just tried to play my game and thankfully when I made a mistake or was down or out or had a bad rebound, our guys were there to bail me out.
 
"That was an unbelievable effort by our team. It was fun to play behind. When you play behind a group like that, it's easy to see why they've had so much success this year. 
 
"It's nice to be a part of it."
 
The Flames struck for three unanswered goals in the second period.
 
After serving a two-minute minor for roughing, Wideman stepped out of the penalty box onto a breakaway and beat Bishop five-hole to put Calgary up 2-1 at 3:12.

Video: CGY@LAK: Wideman finishes break with five-hole tally
 
"First I think I almost toe-picked when I first got the puck so I was thinking 'Oh god, don't fall,' " Wideman said. "Then I was just thinking 'just shoot' and it went in for me. It definitely felt good."
 
Hamilton scored again to make it 3-1 at 10:45 with a wraparound goal, and Chiasson deflected TJ Brodie's point shot by Bishop at 14:20 to put Calgary up 4-1.
 
"I tried to make a little play and took a shot," Hamilton said. "I don't remember after that other than [Troy Brouwer] got it. It came to me beside the net and I was lucky to wrap it in."

Video: CGY@LAK: F. Hamilton tucks home wraparound goal
 
Wideman and Hamilton, along with centre Curtis Lazar, were inserted into the lineup by Gulutzan to give Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma and Michael Stone some rest heading into the playoffs.
 
Gillies made a windmill arm save on Kings defenceman Derek Forbort with 56 seconds remaining in the second period to keep the Flames up by three, and he made eight more saves in the third period to preserve his first NHL win.
 
"He was real good," Gultuzan said. "I think he settled in there and made some big saves. He made some big saves for us. He's a big guy in that net and looked very calm. I thought it was a real good night for him."
 
NOTES: Chad Johnson sustained a lower-body injury in the first period of a 3-1 loss at the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday and has returned to Calgary for further evaluation. Along with Stajan, Bouma and Stone, defenceman Rasmus Andersson was also a healthy scratch. He has yet to make his NHL debut since being recalled March 10.
 
UP NEXT: The Flames conclude their regular season schedule at the San Jose Sharks on Saturday (8 p.m. MT; SN, SN960).
 
(With files from Torie Peterson)

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