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|03/21/11 - Post Game - Kiprusoff - Tue, 22 Mar 2011|
|03/21/11 - Post Game - Quick - Tue, 22 Mar 2011|
|Flames vs Kings Shootout - 3/21 - Tue, 22 Mar 2011|
|Stoll Lotta Love - Tue, 22 Mar 2011|
|03/21/11 - Post Game - Staios - Tue, 22 Mar 2011|
|03/21/11 - Post Game - Iginla - Tue, 22 Mar 2011|
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The idea of another visiting team celebrating a win on STAPLES Center ice? The Kings' hearts, not to mention their playoff chances, probably couldn't have tolerated it.
To the rescue came Jonathan Quick and Jarret Stoll. Quick had one of his finest efforts of the season in goal, and Stoll scored a big third-period goal and a bigger shootout goal as the Kings topped Calgary 2-1 on Monday night before a sellout crowd of 18,118.
The road to the playoffs isn't over. The Kings can't even slow down enough to enjoy the scenery. But, at least for one night, they could exhale a bit and enjoy a critical victory, one that boosted their chances and put a dent in the chances of a close rival.
``It's pretty big right now, especially with nine games left,'' Stoll said. ``They keep getting bigger and bigger. The points mean more and more, and we needed those two points, for sure. We didn't want to give them one, or two, but it was what it was, and we came away with two.''
The Kings, potentially, suffered a big loss though. First-line winger Justin Williams left the game in the middle of the third period, after a check from Calgary's Robyn Regehr drove him into the boards. Williams immediately went to the locker room and did not return.
``Williams is not OK, no,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``I haven't got an update to tell you exactly what it is, but he's not OK. He's got an upper-body injury, and all I heard is that he will get to see the doctor tomorrow and get an evaluation and see where it's at.''
With the win, the Kings moved back into fifth place in the Western Conference with 88 points, one behind Phoenix and two ahead of Chicago and Nashville. In a very close, tight-checking affair, Stoll and Calgary's Olli Jokinen traded goals late in the third period.
With only nine games remaining in the regular season, and Pacific Division-leading San Jose coming to town Thursday, the extra point earned from Monday's shootout loomed large. Alex Tanguay gave the Flames the lead in the first round, but then Stoll and Anze Kopitar scored and Quick made saves on Rene Bourque and Curtis Glencross.
Just two nights after the Kings lost a chance at the extra point, when they fell to Anaheim in overtime, they were able to swarm Quick and celebrate a big victory.
``It's huge, absolutely,'' said Quick, who finished with 27 saves. ``You look back, and we got three out of four points against two teams that we're competing with. Obviously four would be great. Three is not bad, though. So we've just got to keep building.
``We're doing well. We're doing all the little things. I thought we played great these past two games, doing a lot of the little things. The PK has been great. We'll just continue to build off the momentum we established today.''
Quick was on top of his game for 65 minutes. The Flames' only goal came on a breakaway that Quick nearly stopped -- Jokinen slipped a nice shot, backhand, through the five-hole -- and Quick, supported by some good defense, was big in overtime.
Calgary had a golden chance to claim two points in overtime when the Kings took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty with 1:03 remaining in overtime. Quick made three saves and the Kings blocked two other shot attempts to send the game to the shootout.
The penalty kill was the Kings' 35th consecutive successful penalty kill. After it ended, Quick then stopped two of three attempts and improved to 8-0 in shootouts this season.
``There were some big plays on that 4-on-3,'' Murray said. ``Obviously you're blocking shots, you're in the lanes, you're discouraging shots, you're taking away sight lines, and a lot of people really dug in on that look. (Michal) Handzus and Kopitar up front. You've got (Matt) Greene there, and Scuds [Rob Scuderi]. You've just got a lot of people digging in real hard.''
It was, in many ways, a typical Kings-Flames game. Going back to the start of last season, the teams have played eight games, and six have been decided by one goal.
The Kings flipped the script this season, though. After losing three of the four meetings last season, they claimed the season series this time by winning three of four.
``We knew it wasn't going to be pretty or fancy or a high-scoring game,'' Stoll said. ``We knew it was going to be a battle like this, and it was. They're a strong team, they're a tough team to play against. They had a good goalie there. We tried to get to him. We had a good shot mentality tonight. We just couldn't bury them. But a lot of positives, for sure.''
Simmonds did a good job of keeping the puck alive behind the Calgary net, and into the corner, and Simmonds pushed the puck to the top of the left circle. Kiprusoff made the save on Richardson's shot, but Stoll chased down the rebound and whipped the puck into the net before Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff could get back in position.
``(Simmonds) does such good work down there, low, strong on the puck, moving his feet,'' Stoll said. ``He found Richie [Brad Richardson]. We were talking about it on the bench, that soft area, that we've got to start finding it. It was open there, for a lot of the game, and we just couldn't really find it. Richie had a good shot and I just beat my guy to the net and had a rebound.''
The lead lasted only 65 seconds, though. Jokinen took a pass from Steve Staios in the neutral zone and skated past Jack Johnson for a breakaway. Jokinen tucked a backhand shot past Quick from close range to tie the game 1-1 with 4:47 remaining.
``That was a line change,'' Murray said. ``That's just against one of the fundamentals that we have in place with this hockey club. We just stretched out, we got spread out. On a line change, you're supposed to stay nice and tight, compact in the middle of the ice. Jokinen comes from deep in the right-defenseman corner, with a lot of speed.
``It's a play that we've got to make. That's all there is to it. It should not come down to a 1-on-1 look like that, unfortunately.''
The game remained scoreless through overtime. With the shootout tied 1-1 in the second round, the Kings got a break with Bourque's shot hit the post. Kopitar then followed up by tucking a backhand shot past Kiprusoff, five-hole, and Glencross shot wide to end it.
``There's not much of a cushion there,'' Quick said. ``You try not to look at the standings. You just take one game at a time and try to leave it out there, every time you play. Every game has been a playoff mentality, trying to get two points every time we're out there. That's all that matters, getting two points. There's only nine games left, so we've got to keep winning games and keep trying to climb the ladder here.''