Backlund scores twice, Flames top Kings 4-1
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau didn’t let frustration get the better of him on Friday.
After ringing a shot off the crossbar and hitting a pair of posts, Gaudreau scored the eventual game-winner on the power play at 7:44 of the third period as his Calgary Flames beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1.
“After hitting that many posts, crossbars, I think they’d be frustrated as well,” said Gaudreau, who backhanded a pass from linemate Elias Lindholm past Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and goalie Calvin Petersen. “It was just nice to finally put one in there.
“If I was going to get one, it was going to be a greasy one like that. It was good to get the lead there, on the power play too. We worked on it a little bit in practice the other day.”
Mikael Backlund finished with two goals and an assist and Sean Monahan also scored for the Flames, who lead the Pacific Division standings with 32 points, one ahead of the Anaheim Ducks. Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm each had two assists.
Goalie Mike Smith made 13 saves for his second straight win and improved to 7-7-1.
“It was a pretty boring game to be honest,” Smith said. “But saying that, that can lead to some inconsistencies in your game and I thought our guys did a really good job of sticking with it.
“We were skating and getting the puck in the offensive zone and wearing them out on the second of back-to-backs. Great composure by our group to stick with it. It was a weird game and we found a way to win.”
Adrian Kempe scored the Kings’ lone goal. Los Angeles lost its second straight and was coming off a 3-2 loss at Edmonton on Thursday.
“We knew that was going to be a bit of a challenge,” said L.A. coach Willie Desjardins in regards to playing on back-to-back nights.
“I thought we had a good first period, though. I thought our guys skated well. We didn’t hit the net, so we didn’t get the shots, but we had some good chances.”
After giving up an early goal, rookie Kings goalie Calvin Petersen finished with 33 saves.
“For a young player, he’s been really quite remarkable to come in with his composure,” Desjardins said. “He gives up that early one which could throw anybody off their game. It didn’t. He stayed with it and was solid throughout the game.”
Calgary opened the scoring 36 seconds into the first period when Backlund let a harmless-looking shot go from the top of the faceoff circle and beat Petersen over his left pad.
Although the Flames outshot Los Angeles 9-4 in the opening 20 minutes, they weren’t able to get any more pucks past Petersen, who slid across his crease to deny another scoring opportunity by Backlund with 1:24 remaining before the first intermission.
Less than a minute before Backlund’s late opportunity, Smith made a stick save to thwart a chance from the slot by forward Dustin Brown.
Gaudreau nearly put the Flames up 2-0 during an early power-play chance in the second period, but his shot from the slot rang off the crossbar.
The Kings pulled even at 13:41 of the second on a goal by Kempe, who scored off a pass from Austin Wagner from behind the net.
Gaudreau had another great chance to score late in the period when he made a couple moves behind the net before his wraparound attempt went along the goal line and off the far post.
Gaudreau then rang another puck off the post early in the third before finally backhanding a shot past Petersen during a Calgary man advantage, putting the Flames up by a goal.
“I don’t think it should’ve been a 1-1 game going into the third there with so many chances and we couldn’t find the net,” Gaudreau said. “It was nice to get rewarded there in the third.”
Backlund and Monahan added a pair of empty-net goals in the final minute of the game to seal the victory.
NOTES: Lindholm played in his 400th NHL game. . L.A. forward Ilya Kovalchuk missed the game with an ankle injury. After recording five goals and nine assists in his first 14 games with the Kings, Kovalchuk hasn’t recorded a point in his last 11 outings.
Kings: Home against Carolina on Sunday.
Flames: At Chicago on Sunday.