Kings at Flames: Not Fire Enough
When the Kings let the Flames upset them in the waning minutes at Staples Center, we tweeted this:
Something that's cool and exciting is we get to see the Kings give away a game to the Flames again a week from now.
— thx bae (@thxbud) December 23, 2014
The good news is that the Kings didn’t bother making anyone watching wait until the third period to see them throw the game. They got it out of the way right in the first period. Two instances where they blew coverage in the neutral zone allowed the Flames to get shots from the slot about a minute apart. Both became goals.
The first came from Curtis Glencross, and the second from Markus Granlund.
Jiri Hudler picked up the first assist on both goals, though the second goal against was notable for Johnny Gaudreau doing nice work against the Kings once again. Matt Greene actually stepped up in the neutral zone, but Gaudreau handled him easily to gain the attacking zone while maintaining control of the puck.
It wasn’t the worst first period the Kings have played on the road, but it was another poor one to add to their small pile. Two goals against, none for.
To their credit, they came out stronger in the second, even finishing positive in possession. Tyler Toffoli in particular did some really great work and eventually cut the Flames lead in half late in the period.
The whole play was an example of the Kings getting their own 200-ft break. Trevor Lewis recovered the puck in the defensive zone, passed to Dustin Brown at center ice, who then sent it right onto Toffoli’s tape, setting him up for a nice backhand shot in close. Toffoli had three separate scoring chances near the end of this period, nearly tying the game shortly after his goal, but alas, Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller made the saves.
The Kings tried to put more pressure on the Flames in the third, outshooting them 10-5, but the Flames were able to limit dangerous scoring chances and didn’t succumb to the Kings pulling Jonathan Quick late. They lost 2-1.
So, the Kings played well for 40 minutes, but in the end, it took a minute and a half to beat them.
Though their road record remains bafflingly bad, it’s still not like the Kings have been playing poorly throughout these games. Hard to do much other than grumble in frustration and move on.
Some other things of note: Marian Gaborik was out with the flu, Jeff Carter played even though he has also been sick (and tied Toffoli for a team-high four shots on goal), and Brayden McNabb sat for the first time this season. In his post-game interview, coach Darryl Sutter said they took McNabb out because he’s been struggling, but I feel like applies more to McNabb early in the season rather than now. Ah, well.
Tonight the Kings play Edmonton. The Sharks are the only Western Conference team to have lost to Edmonton in regulation this season. It would be nice if the Kings didn’t become the second team.