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Hiller, Flames hang on to defeat Kings

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- For the second time in eight days, the Calgary Flames conquered the Los Angeles Kings.

Jiri Hudler set up each goal and Jonas Hiller made 26 saves to power the Flames to a 2-1 win against the Kings at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.

"It's huge," Hudler said. "They're in our conference and they're Stanley Cup champs. They've got a big, physical team. The last game in their building was a comeback, and we stuck with it tonight. It's great points for us.

"Every time we beat the Stanley Cup champions we feel good about ourselves."

Curtis Glencross and Markus Granlund scored for Calgary (20-15-3), which rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Los Angeles 4-3 in overtime at Staples Center on Dec. 22. The Flames have won three games in a row.

"It was a little different," Hudler said. "We started a little better. We got lucky bounces in L.A. with a minute to go. We cannot count on comebacks every night. The League schedule is going to get tougher after Christmas and after New Year's. We've got to grind it out."

Tyler Toffoli scored for the Kings (18-12-7), who have lost two of their past three games.

"The team has got a big bounce-back game tomorrow night, right back at it," Toffoli said referring to the Kings game against the Edmonton Oilers. "It's probably best for the team to just forget about this one and move right on. That's what we do every night. It doesn't matter if we win or lose; when we go into a new game, it's a new game, new team."

After the Flames scored four unanswered to rally for a win against the Kings last week, ending their eight-game losing streak, Hudler helped Calgary quickly tack on two more goals against Los Angeles in the first period Monday.

With a step on Los Angeles defenseman Jake Muzzin off the rush, Hudler pulled up and found Glencross trailing, and Glencross beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to the blocker side with his eighth goal to put Calgary up 1-0 at 12:13.

"[Hudler] sees the ice so well. That's a gift," Glencross said. "My goal, I'm coming up the ice and he put it right on my tape and didn't even look pretty much."

Hudler helped the Flames strike again 62 seconds later. Rookie Johnny Gaudreau, who was named the NHL's First Star for the week ending Dec. 28 in part because of his hat trick in the come-from-behind win against the Kings, stepped around defenseman Matt Greene at the Los Angeles blue line and fed Hudler, who spotted Granlund trailing in the slot. Granlund slid his fifth goal into a nearly empty net to extend the Calgary lead to 2-0.

"The plays were there with [Granlund] and same with [Glencross]," Hudler said. "You've got to make it. I always look for the pass for a player with a better position. It just came up like that naturally."

After Kings forward Dustin Brown and Flames center Sean Monahan each put a shot off the goal post, Toffoli pulled Los Angeles back to within one late in the second.

Catching Calgary on a late line change, Brown sprung Toffoli in alone on Flames goalie Jonas Hiller. Toffoli deked and lifted a backhand over Hiller for his 12th goal with 50.1 seconds remaining in the period.

Toffoli almost tied it with 14 seconds left in the second. Gaudreau's turnover in the Calgary zone ended up on the stick of the Kings forward, but Hiller denied Toffoli with an outstretched pad.

"He got his leg on it," Toffoli said. "I tried to get it upstairs, but it was kind of rolling there. I think if I put that in there it's a totally different ending to the game."

Hiller was equally good in the third in denying Tanner Pearson's wraparound attempt with 8:19 remaining and facing point shots from Drew Doughty and Muzzin the next shift.

After killing off a late penalty to Jarret Stoll, Los Angeles pressed with the net empty but couldn't beat Hiller for the tying goal with a scrum in the dying seconds.

"It's always great to play against the Kings," Hiller said. "They've had a great team the last few years. They play hard every night and want to win, and to be able to withstand them and find a way to win against that team, that's the defending champions, it proves we have something good going here."

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