KINGS (18-11-7) at FLAMES (19-15-3)
TV: FS-W, SNW
CALGARY -- The Los Angeles Kings might have underestimated Johnny Gaudreau a week ago. They won't again.
Seven days after Gaudreau ignited the Calgary Flames with a hat trick to spur a 4-3 come-from-behind victory in Los Angeles, defenseman Drew Doughty vowed his Kings wouldn't make the same mistake a second time when they visit Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday.
"We know what to expect from him now," Doughty said. "We maybe underestimated him a little bit in the first game, but not this time.
"He's a good player and we've got to pay special attention to him. He's on their top line and we've got to shut him down."
Few have been able to of late. Including his three at the Kings' expense, Gaudreau has six goals in his past three games and five in his previous two.
His recent exploits, including a pair of goals 16 seconds apart Saturday in Calgary's 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers, helped the 21-year-old rookie earn the NHL's First Star of the Week honor.
"I'm just fortunate and blessed to be honored to win an award like that," said the Salem, N.J. native, who ranks second among rookies in goals (12), assists (17) and points (29) in 36 games. "I know last year, watching a ton of players who got the chance to be that first star of the week. It's exciting to be a part of something like that when it's my first season here.
"I was pretty surprised about it, but I'm pretty fortunate to be honored like that. I'm pretty excited about it."
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound forward kick-started the week at the Kings expense.
With the Flames trailing 3-0 on Dec. 22, Gaudreau scored his first of three with 1:52 remaining in second period to pull Calgary within two. He added goals 1:13 apart in the final minutes of regulation with Calgary's net empty before Flames captain Mark Giordano won the game with 53 seconds left in overtime to snap Calgary's eight-game losing streak.
By doing so, Gaudreau will earn plenty of attention from Doughty.
"He's quick down low," Doughty said. "He's a small guy. He's good at avoiding checks. You've just got to play tight on him, don't give him a lot of room and if you can get to him before he's able to make a move you can pin him. He's a little lighter than most players. It might be a little bit easier to pin him, but he's so good at getting away from it that you can't give him room."
Being the focus of opposing teams should be nothing new for Gaudreau, according to Flames coach Bob Hartley.
"Johnny has been chased, probably from that first stride that he took in his hockey career," Hartley said. "We all understand that this is the NHL and there is more research and scrutiny on game preparation. That's the price to pay to be a star.
"That's what Johnny has created for himself and that's why we play him a lot, we feel that he can be a game changer for us and we're going to put him on the ice as much as we can."
Gaudreau doesn't mind the extra attention. The reigning Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner understands it comes with the territory. He's just trying not to focus on it.
"I'm a smaller guy playing against a lot of big guys, but I've just got to worry about my own game," Gaudreau said. "Make sure I'm doing the little things right in the defensive zone, playing well in the offensive zone and good things will happen."
Here are the projected lineups:
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Jeff Carter
Dustin Brown – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Tanner Pearson – Trevor Lewis – Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford – Mike Richards – Dwight King
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez – Matt Greene
Brayden McNabb – Jamie McBain
Scratched: Jordan Nolan, Andy Andreoff, Jeff Schultz
Injured: Robyn Regehr (upper body)
Suspended: Slava Voynov
Curtis Glencross - Sean Monahan - David Jones
Johnny Gaudreau - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler
Mason Raymond - Joe Colborne - Paul Byron
Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Lance Bouma
Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie
Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman
Raphael Diaz - Deryk Engelland
Scratched: Corey Potter, Brian McGrattan
Injured: Sam Bennett (shoulder surgery), Mikael Backlund (abdomen), Ladislav Smid (upper body), Josh Jooris (upper body)
Status report: Gaborik and Carter were given the morning skate off after being under the weather but are expected to play. … Jooris, who has missed three straight games because of an upper-body injury, took the morning skate but isn't expected to play. Backlund skated with teammates for the first time since late October and could be cleared for contact as early as Tuesday.
Who's hot: Kopitar has points in five straight games for the Kings, with two goals and 12 points during his run. … Hudler has four assists during a three-game point streak.