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Ortio makes 35 saves in setback to Kings

by Jason Johnson / Calgary Flames

-- Joni Ortio made 35 saves but a second period power play goal by Anze Kopitar proved to be the winner as the Los Angeles Kings dealt the Calgary Flames their second consecutive loss, 2-1, at the Staples Center on Tuesday.

Ortio, who hadn't started an NHL contest since Oct. 30 and has spent most of the season tending goal for the Stockton Heat of the AHL, put on quite the show in Hollywood for the Flames (26-30-3).

"He gave us a chance and kept us in the game," Bob Hartley said. "I felt that he was real solid and was tracking the puck well. You could feel that he was on his game."

The 24-year-old was handed the starter's role after Jonas Hiller struggled Sunday in Anaheim. Ortio tied a career game high in shots faced, matching a shutout performance on Jan. 19, 2015 in Vancouver.

"Orts played real well for us," said Sean Monahan, who recorded his 18th goal of the season Tuesday. "He kept us in the game and made a lot of stops and when your goalie plays like that those are the games you should win but unfortunately tonight they came out on top."

Ortio was outstanding in the opening frame, turning aside 13 shots. The Turku, Finland native survived a barrage of shots from just outside the blue paint. With Flames defenceman Deryk Englelland off for tripping, Ortio made a heads-up pad save denying Milan Lucic on a redirected point blast.

The Kings (35-20-4) finally solved Ortio at the midway mark of the second period when Luke Schenn threw a wrister on net from just inside the blueline on the far boards and it found it's way past Ortio, who was completely screened by Vincent Lecavalier on the play.

"I saw a lot of pucks," Ortio said. "The only one I didn't see was the first (goal). So there you go, that's how important it is. I felt good throughout the night and the guys made it fairly easy on me.

"I don't think we gave up that many grade A scoring chances in the slot, we kept them on the outside for the most part so that made my job easier."

Calgary responded a few minutes later on the power play as Sean Monahan completed a tic-tac-toe passing play between himself, Johny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler to draw the Flames even with the Kings.

The Flames goaltender shut the door again after Lucic came around from behind the net and tossed the puck towards the Flames' goal to create a mad scramble where a pair of Kings players took several stabs at the puck but Ortio was able to freeze the puck between his legs.

The Kings restored their one goal advantage late in the second period while on the power play. Drew Doughty threaded the needle to a wide open Anze Kopitar, who was parked beside the net and deposited the puck into the open cage, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead.

Los Angeles took a lopsided 30-12 shot advantage into the third period. 18 of those shots came in the middle stanza, the most the Flames have surrendered in a period this season.

"They had a lot of possession and zone time on us but after that goal there we kind of picked it up and were getting shots through and I think that's when we are at our best," Monahan added.

The best save of the evening was again courtesy of Ortio with under five minutes left, this time stretching his leg across to rob Dwight King, who looked to have a tap-in from a pretty pass on a two-on-one with Jeff Carter.

"It gives you a big spark when there is a big save like that and it gets the guys going," Monahan said. "When a goalie plays like the the end result is you should be winning games for him."

The Flames outshot the Kings 11-7 in the final period and had a handful of great chances. They just couldn't get it past Jonathan Quick.

"Sometimes you get those bounces, sometimes you don't," Hartley shrugged. "Like I said before, we can't fault the effort in tonight's game. The boys went hard, we were a desperate bunch and I felt that we could have deserved better but they played well, too.

"There's a team that plays hard, that plays very well and they deserved it also."

The Flames will head back to Calgary after an 0-2 California mini road trip to prepare to face off against the New York Islanders on Thursday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It's not known who Hartley will deem the starter but Ortio made a solid case in LA.

"We really liked his game and we're going to talk about it as a staff like we always do and we'll come up with our decision for Thursday night against the Islanders."

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