Randy Newman’s iconic I Love L.A. plays whenever the Los Angeles Kings score a goal at the Staples Centre, something that happens with roughly the frequency of a lunar eclipse. Not often, in other words. Even after Darryl Sutter was installed as L.A.’s new coach some 15 games ago, the Kings mostly succeed because of their defence, where they’ve given up two or fewer goals per game (in 13 of the games thus far).
Ultimately, those scoring woes caught up to the Kings Thursday night – or the second time in five days that Darryl Sutter’s Kings met Brent Sutter’s Calgary Flames. This time, the Flames turned the tables on the Kings, eking out a 2-1 shootout win, on goals from Olli Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri, two former Kings who were lustily booed by the Staples Centre faithful. L.A. won the first meeting up in Calgary last Saturday.
Under Sutter, the Kings are masters of getting to overtime, and locking up all those bonus points that come from extending the game beyond 60 regulation minutes. Nine of the 15 games have gone to extra time, the Kings having absorbed just one regulation loss since Sutter assumed control.
There was even a moment of controversy in the shootout, after video review overturned a goal that Kings’ Jack Johnson apparently scored. That turned out to be key. The Flames, meanwhile, may start to love L.A. a little more, having ended a four-game losing streak to the surging Kings. The win raised Calgary’s record to 22-20-6 on the season, heading into Saturday’s date with the Oilers in Edmonton.
Until overtime, which featured the best scoring chances of the game for both teams, the game was largely played in close quarters and brought new meaning to the term defensive battle. It opened up a little in the extra time, with Jonathan Quick forced to stack the pads to stop Scott Hannan in close in the final minute; and then Miikka Kiprusoff reaching back to rob a wide-open Dustin Penner in the goal crease seconds later. L.A. had a four-on-three overtime power play for the final 34.1 seconds, after Mark Giordano took a hooking penalty, but failed to convert on the chance, setting up the shootout.
L.A.’s scoring woes pre-date Sutter’s arrival as coach.
The Flames, meanwhile, played the game without left winger Curtis Glencross, who injured his knee two nights earlier against the San Jose Sharks and went home. Glencross is out indefinitely, and joins fellow forwards Alex Tanguay, Brendan Morrison and David Moss on the sidelines. As a result, eight of the 12 forwards in Calgary’s line-up last night had scored three or fewer goals in the NHL this season.
Darryl Sutter used one former Canadian Olympian, Drew Doughty, to check Jarome Iginla, another fellow Olympian, and once in the third period, Doughty wiped out Iginla along the boards with a hard, clean hit. Iginla usually doesn’t put himself in that situation.
“It was a gritty game,” said Iginla. “They played well defensively, especially after the first period. We only had a few shots. We just stayed with it. I thought in the middle of the first they just started getting some momentum there and I thought we did a good job of staying with it and not getting flustered and not letting them get more than one. They had a very good first and we only came out of that down one I thought was boost, we kind of got back in it from there.”
Dustin Brown scored the Kings’ only goal, 3:28 into the opening period, after finding a seam in the defence in front of Kiprusoff and whipping in a 10-foot wrist shot. Calgary seemed badly out of sorts early, getting just one shot in the first 14 minutes of play and registering only three in the entire first period.
But Kiprusoff kept them close and L.A.’s tendency to take one penalty after another finally caught up to them. After successfully killing off a 38-second five-on-three, the Kings were a little unlucky on Iginla’s tying goal, a one-timer from the left face-off circle, in which Iginla had all day to shoot because penalty killer Trevor Lewis fell and lost his stick. Iginla wired his shot past the Kings’ all-star goaltender, Quick.