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Flames' fast first hurts Kings in 2-1 loss

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

Calgary’s speed and forward attack got the best of the Kings in the first period Monday night as they fell 2-1 to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Flames, who snapped an eight-game losing streak last Monday at STAPLES Center, came out charging with two first period goals on a pair of fast-break rushes. On both of Calgary’s first period goals, the Kings left an unmarked man in front of Jonathan Quick’s net.

“We were beat in the first period,” Jarret Stoll said following the loss. “You give up two goals like that, it’s a tough start, especially on the road. We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to lock things down, do a better job of checking, and be a quicker, faster team.”

Calgary’s goals came within 1:02 minutes of each other on consecutive shifts. On both occasions, the Kings got caught in the neutral zone as the Flames approached the Kings’ zone with speed. Both pucks were put past Quick with relative ease, as the Flames had a high-man all alone and undetected on both of their markers.

The game slowed down heading into the second period with the Kings facing a two-goal deficit, but the Flames dipped back into a rather conservative approach, playing a defense-first mindset, not taking any aggressive offensive risks that would allow the Kings to easily transition into an odd-man rush.

The Kings, with a great second period possession wise, almost came away with nothing to show for it. Calgary sat back and patrolled their defensive zone while the Kings struggled to find many available shooting lanes.

Mike Richards, who hasn’t scored in the past 14 games, had a close chance midway through the second, but couldn’t tuck the puck quite far enough past the goal line.

Tyler Toffoli, though, was able to find the net, getting the Kings on the board with :50 seconds left to play in the middle frame after receiving a gorgeous pass from Dustin Brown in the neutral zone. Trevor Lewis started the play, snapping a lengthy pass to Brown from the Kings’ zone. Brown, reading Toffoli’s movement, fed him a pass that allowed him to walk in all alone on Jonas Hiller.

With a quick move from his forehand to backhand, Toffoli beat Hiller high to the blocker side to give the Kings some life. Toffoli, with his second goal in as many games, now has 12 on the season. He once again leads the roster in that department.

Trevor Lewis, with the secondary assist on Tyler Toffoli’s goal, is now riding a career-high four-game point streak. Lewis has two goals and two assists during that span.

Entering the third period, the Kings continued to build on their second period performance, but Calgary continued to sit back and clog their defensive zone, making it tough for the Kings to get shots through.

On the night, the Kings attempted 69 shots and Calgary blocked 26 of them. They outshot the Flames 27-15, but that didn’t translate particularly well on the scoreboard.

“They’re a great shot blocking team, I’ll give them credit for sure,” Stoll said of the Flames. “We knew that coming in, we need to find a way to get pucks to the net, pucks past them, and get to Hiller, make it hard on him, make him work for a victory. We didn’t do enough of that tonight.”

Anze Kopitar had a golden scoring opportunity late in the third, but was a second late on the play as a Calgary defenseman’s stick disrupted Kopitar’s rebound attempt.

Drew Doughty provided a last-ditch effort in the waning seconds of the game, but Jonas Hiller was able to freeze the puck between his pads to secure the 2-1 win for the Flames.

“They’re good at blocking shots,” Reiterated a frustrated Drew Doughty after the game. “But the bottom line is if they’re going to block it, we’ve got to make it hurt.”

Unfortunately, the Kings had to deal with the pain of a loss Monday night. However, they will have a chance to recover Tuesday night in Edmonton, as they face an Oilers club that has lost 20 of it’s past 21 games.

Tyler Toffoli (1G), Dustin Brown (1A), and Trevore Lewis (1A) led all Kings players in points scored (1), Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter in shots taken (4), Matt Greene and Dwight King in hits delivered (4), Matt Greene in shots blocked (5), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (27:34). Jonathan Quick made 13 saves in the loss.

With the loss, the Kings’ record dips to 18-12-7; their mark away from STAPLES Center drops to 4-8-5. The Kings will continue their three-game road trip Tuesday night as they take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. The puck is slated to drop at 6:30PM PT.

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