Kings-Flames Preview

The Calgary Flames snapped a three-game losing streak with a

strong effort in their most recent game, and now the Los Angeles

Kings hope it’s their turn to do the same.

After three frustrating one-goal defeats, the Kings look to

avoid their first four-game skid of the season Wednesday night at

Calgary, where they haven’t won in more than four years.

The Flames were struggling through a 1-4-2 stretch going into

Monday night’s game at Edmonton, and things didn’t appear to be

improving when they fell behind 2:02 into the game and were outshot

16-5 in the first period.

But Calgary (21-12-5) responded with four unanswered goals for a

4-1 win, which included a natural hat trick on an even-strength

goal, a power-play goal and a short-handed goal from right wing

Rene Bourque.

“We were pretty bad at home our last game (Sunday’s 5-1 loss to

Vancouver) and we knew we needed to win this game,” Flames

assistant captain Jay Bouwmeester said. “We allowed a lot of shots

early, but we settled down and played a lot better after that.”

The victory, combined with the Kings’ 4-3 home loss to

Minnesota, moved the Flames into a tie with Los Angeles as the

teams jostle for position in the Western Conference.

But perhaps more importantly for Calgary, it helped restore some

confidence the team had been lacking lately. Coach Brent Sutter had

promised Sunday that his team’s problems would be “dealt with,” and

he seemed pleased after Monday’s win.

“I thought our purpose was better tonight,” Sutter told the

Flames’ official Web site. “It’s a step in the direction we need to

get back into.”

The Flames have still dropped three straight home games and will

try to avoid their first four-game winless streak at the Pengrowth

Saddledome in nearly six years. They were 0-3-0 with a tie there

from Dec. 26, 2003-Jan. 3, 2004.

The Kings have been outscored 34-14 while losing their last

eight games at Calgary dating back to the 2005-06 season, and Los

Angeles (22-14-3) hasn’t earned any points in the standings in more

than two weeks.

After a 3-2 win at Edmonton on Dec. 15, the Kings lost 2-1 at

Calgary two days later before a lengthy Christmas break. They

resumed play with a 3-2 defeat at Phoenix on Saturday.

Los Angeles erased a two-goal deficit in the third period

against the Wild, but allowed the game-winning goal just 12 seconds

after the equalizer in a 4-3 loss.

“That was a huge two points that got away from us,” captain

Dustin Brown told the Kings’ official Web site. “That’s all that

really matters at this point, points, whether we’re playing good or

bad. We found ways to win a couple weeks ago, and we need to find

ways to win now.”

Jonathan Quick allowed four goals on 23 shots for the Kings

while starting his seventh straight game, but he hasn’t gotten much

help from an offense averaging 2.0 goals in that stretch.

Center Anze Kopitar has two goals in his last 21 games after

scoring 14 in his first 18 contests. His linemate, Justin Williams,

broke his ankle Saturday at Phoenix and could miss a few

months.

A lack of offense was certainly a problem for the Kings at

Calgary earlier this month, as Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made

34 saves. Kiprusoff is 6-1-0 with a 1.43 goals-against average in

seven starts against Los Angeles since the beginning of last

season.

The Kings’ 2-1 home win Dec. 7 was one of two victories in their

last 14 meetings with the Flames.