The young Calgary Flames hung in with one of the NHL’s best teams until the last minute, when T.J. Brodie capitalized on the Los Angeles Kings’ final mistake.
Brodie scored the tiebreaking power-play goal with 29.7 seconds to play, and Calgary rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Kings on Monday night.
He beat Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick for his fifth career goal to cap an encouraging evening for the Flames, who had lost on the first two California stops of their road trip. Calgary was picked near the bottom of most Western Conference projections after a thorough offseason overhaul, but the Flames had enough hustle and good fortune to knock off the veteran Kings.
”Real gutsy effort, and (we) scored three goals on the power play,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. ”We knew coming here that it would be physical, so there would be power plays on both sides, and I think we won the special teams battle.”
The Flames got a power play with 2:12 left in regulation when Dennis Wideman fell to the ice near the benches, drawing a hooking penalty on Anze Kopitar. With the man advantage nearly expired, Brodie collected a bouncing pass from Jiri Hudler in the slot and beat Quick for Calgary’s third power-play goal of the night.
”We want to jump up into the play as much as possible, and if there’s opportunities there, we want to take them,” Brodie said. ”The puck was bouncing, so I didn’t want it to hop on me. I knew Quick was down on the right side of the net, so I thought I’d put it to the other side where Huds was, just in case he stopped it and there was a rebound.”
Mike Cammalleri scored in his season debut for the Flames, and rookie Sean Monahan added another power-play goal in the second period. Karri Ramo stopped 27 shots in his first victory for Calgary.
Jeff Carter scored a tying short-handed goal late in the second period for the Kings, who had won 17 of their previous 19 home games. Quick made 22 saves, and Drew Doughty scored an early power-play goal in just Los Angeles’ second loss in seven games.
”I thought we looked fatigued,” Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. ”Tonight was 10 (games) in 19 (days), and the other team was clearly fresher than ours. It made a big difference.”
All five goals in the game were scored on special teams. Calgary’s league-worst penalty kill gave up another goal, while the Kings had one of the NHL’s best penalty-killing units before giving up three to the Flames.
The decisive penalty on Kopitar drew howls of disbelief from Staples Center fans, who saw Wideman take a tumble on what appeared to be an innocent stick check. But both Kopitar and Sutter blamed the Kings for a night full of bad decisions.
”Doesn’t matter if it was a good or bad call,” Kopitar said. ”I shouldn’t have put my team in that position. . . . Everything was off. We didn’t play our game.”
Calgary didn’t record a shot on goal in the final 13:52 of a tentative first period, and Los Angeles went ahead when Doughty put a wrist shot in the top corner of Ramo’s net. Doughty has goals in back-to-back games after the $56 million defenseman went without a point for seven consecutive games.
Cammalleri evened it on a power play early in the second period, beating Quick after a cross-ice pass from Hudler. Cammalleri, the Flames’ leading scorer last season, sat out the first seven games of this year with an upper-body injury.
Monahan put the Flames ahead at the close of a sharp passing sequence for the Flames, batting home a loose puck on another power play. The 19-year-old center already has six goals in his first eight NHL games since Calgary chose him with the sixth overall pick this summer.
The Kings evened it up with an impressive short-handed rush from Carter, who took the puck at his blue line and fended off Mark Giordano before throwing it at Mike Richards in front, where the puck deflected off Wideman’s stick and beat Ramo.
Carter, who led the Western Conference with 26 goals last season, has five goals in another strong start for the Kings.
NOTES: Los Angeles D Robyn Regehr played his first 11 NHL seasons with Calgary before getting traded to Buffalo in 2011. . . . Hudler had two assists. He has scored in each of the Flames’ eight games this season, the only player in the NHL without a scoreless game yet this season. . . . Ramo started his second straight game despite giving up five goals in San Jose last Saturday. Joey MacDonald is expected to start Tuesday in Phoenix.