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Flames continue upward climb in the standings with big win over visiting Kings

by TY PILSON @typilson /

Let's play the numbers game.

Milan Lucic's 200th career goal - and second in as many games.

Zac Rinaldo's first of the campaign, and first wearing the Flaming C.

Sean Monahan's eighth goal of the season, also his second in his last two outings.

Dillon Dube with his third of the year.

Plus 30 big saves by Cam Talbot, in his first start since Nov. 17.

That all added up to a tidy Saturday night win for the Flames, who downed the visiting LA Kings 4-3 at the Scotibank Saddledome.


Video: Brendan Parker on huge victory


Calgary has now won four straight under interim coach Geoff Ward, and are 5-0-1 in their last six games.

After losing their first two outings this season to the Kings, it was also a welcome win over a divisional rival.

The game was punctuated all night by loud 'booooooooooooos' for Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, public enemy No.-1 around these parts.

And even louder chants of 'loooooooooccchhhh' for the fan favourite Lucic, named the game's second star.

Speaking of the big man, he and Johnny Gaudreau - who both played starring roles in the Flames 4-3 win over the visiting Sabres on Thursday - got the crowd into the game early.

Lucic chased a loose puck halfway down the ice and grabbed it on the half-boards inside the Kings zone with a defender on him, then turning and firing a long distance pass to a streaking Johnny Hockey, whose tip attempt near the far post was stopped by Jack Campbell.

On a rush by Doughty, he brought the puck up over the blueline to the aforementioned boos but was quickly stripped, Matthew Tkachuk skating back the other way to cheers and firing a puck between the legs of a defender at a full gallop as he fell to his knees, but Campbell able to track the puck through the screen and stop it.

Tobias Rieder was sent to the bin for an interference call on Kings captain Anze Kopitar at 11:03.

Just six seconds into the ensuing powerplay, Kopitar wired a seeing-shot shot from up high in the zone that found net over Talbot's left shoulder through a tiny hole.

Doughty got an assist on the play. 

After failing to score on a powerplay of their own, the Flames went back to the PK when Mikael Backlund was called for slashing.

Just 12 seconds into this one, Doughty got the puck mid-ice at the Flames blueline and walked in, snapping a wrister that beat Talbot far-side. 

Kopitar picked up one of the helpers on the tally.

The score was 2-0 for the Kings.

The shots, 11-4 for the Flames.

On a Flames powerplay late in the first period after Dube was tripped behind the Kings net, Lucic got his marker.

He finished a beatiful tic-tac-toe play off a rush, Derek Ryan hitting Backlund, right over to Lucic who redirected it into the cage from the doorstep at 18:14.

Just so happened that Backlund picked up his 200th career assist on the goal.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: Ryan ������Backlund ������LoochNothing' but net.#LAKvsCGY | #Flames 

Rinaldo's goal knotted things up 3:01 into the middle stanza.

After a battle for the puck along the boards, Dube floated out to open ice and got the puck, finding Rinaldo as he walked out of the corner with a lovely pass, the latter skating across the crease and wrapping it around Campbell.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: What a pass, what a MOVE!Not a bad way to get your first as a Flame, @RinaldoZac! 🔥


Then it was time for some of that ol' Gaudreau magic.

When he starts waving the wand and dangling, it's something to behold.

He picked up a puck near the Flames blueline and did what he does best, hit the jets and stickhandle up the ice, slinking to-and-fro like a shark on the prowl, skating up and around all five Kings before sliding the puck from a tough angle - just before he skated behind the net - right out front to a trailing Sean Monahan in the slot, who one-timed it home for his eighth of the season.


Tweet from @NHLFlames: You won't see many better. #LAKvsCGY | #Flames


During a time out just before the second ended, Rinaldo and Kings forward Kyle Clifford had a lengthy chat as they skated down the ice, before schucking the mitts for a brief tussle as a linesman jumped in.

Both were given five-minute majors and game misconducts.

The Flames came out with a purpose to start the third.

On the first shift, Elias Lindholm got close to converting a one-timer in tight off a pass from Andrew Mangiapane, moments later Mangiapane tried for a wraparound, running into the pad of Campbell and tripping as he tried to drive across the crease.

On the second shift, Ryan came flying over the blueline and let a shot go that Campbell stopped, the juicy rebound popping off his pad to the other side where Dube - ahead of his man in a foot race to the net - smacked it home at 1:29 for the game-winner.

Oh, Lucic got a helper. 

Matt Roy scored at 5:24 to pull the Kings back within one to round out the scoring.



Rinaldo on his goal:

"It's nice. It's a really good feeling, especially feeling the energy from the crowd. I haven't sensed that type of energy from a crowd in a long time. That really made me feel at home, doing what I was doing on the ice and having it embraced by the fans was really heartwarming for me. Especially it coming down from the fans into the dressing room and the guys feeding off that energy? That's what I live for, that's what I play for, and it showed tonight."


Ward on his team's play:

"I liked - first of all - the composure. When we got down 2-0, there was no panic. Guys just went to work. There was a lot of talking on the bench and they were real upbeat. I thought the guys responded well, coming out and starting out with a strong, strong second period."


On Looch scoring:

"He's always been a streaky scorer, so hopefully this is a good sign and hopefully he keeps it going. It's great. It was his 200th career goal tonight, which is special - it's a marker. Mikael Backlund, 200th career assist. We had some nice milestones tonight. He's playing well right now. He's feeling it, just like a lot of guys on our team are and it's great for our team." 


Talbot on his night:

"This team's playing with a lot of confidence right now, so I knew they were going to give me some run support tonight. They did that, and I just had to do my job at the end."


Lucic on his historic marker:

"When you're getting rewarded, you know, personally for your effort (it's big), but more importantly with two points in the standings, that's the main thing. On that goal, sometimes it bounces your way, sometimes it doesn't. I've had it bounce not my way a lot of times and tonight it bounced my way there. I think it's pretty cool, I scored my first goal and my 200th goal against the same team. Nice to finally hit that milestone." 



Former Flames forward Matt Stajan - who announced his retirement Tuesday - got a prolonged standing ovation from the C of Red in the first period when he was shown on the jumbotron and recognized for his contributions to the team ... Saturday's tilt was the annual Flames Foundation Awareness Game. During the contest, the team highlighted initiatives and programming, and thanked fans and donors for their support. Click here for more info ... Captain Mark Giordano is one assist away from passing Kent Nilsson's 333 for the seventh most career assists by one player in Flames franchise history ... The Flames have a record of 6-9-3 against Western Conference opponents this season, and a record of 4-5-1 against the Pacific Division ... Don't forget, you can still bid on one the sweet warmup jerseys we wore for Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night and help support our troops. Click here for more info.


Video: Mr. Jeff McCaig and Candice Goudie join Flames TV


Video: Our look back on impressive career




Tweet from @NHLFlames: Chucky, Lindy and Mang will start us off!💥#LAKvsCGY | #Flames | @Schneiders


The trios, D-pairings and goalies to start last night's tilt:


Matthew Tkachuk - Elias Lindholm - Andrew Mangiapane

Sean Monahan - Mikael Backlund - Dillon Dube

Milan Lucic - Derek Ryan - Johnny Gaudreau

Tobias Rieder - Mark Jankowski - Michael Frolik



Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Travis Hamonic

Oliver Kylington - Rasmus Andersson



Cam Talbot

David Rittich



The team heads back on the road for a back-to-back with the Avalanche Monday and the Coyotes on Tuesday, before returning home to host the Maple Leafs Thursday (click here for tickets).

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