LOS ANGELES – Jarret Stoll and the Los Angeles Kings. Two-game. Set. Match.
In the second straight game against the Calgary Flames, Stoll's first-period goal and a diving clear of the puck during a Flames' 5-on-3 advantage in the third helped the Kings complete a two-game series sweep with a 3-1 win at Staples Center on Monday.
The game further sent the teams in opposite directions. L.A. hit the halfway mark victorious in 11 of 14 and improved to 9-0-1 at home since its season-opening, banner-raising loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Calgary leaves Southern California reeling, having gone 0-3 and outscored 13-3. Stoll's play was the face of the game as L.A.'s defense tried to curb the Flames.
"It wasn't clean," Stoll said. "It's wasn't pretty. It was hack-and-whack out there a lot of times. Pucks were all over the place, and sometimes it seems like there were more than one or two pucks out there … we found a way to win."
A window opened for the Flames to get back into the game and perhaps salvage it when they forced L.A. into two penalties at the start of the third period. But they couldn't convert on the 27-second two-man advantage. Moments later, Matt Stajan's glorious chance from the right circle hit Jonathan Quick square in the mask.
Mikael Backlund ruined Quick's shutout bid with a move around Alec Martinez and a shot under Quick's leg with 5:22 left. Dustin Brown added an empty-net goal to assure the Kings of their ninth win in the past 11 games.
Calgary is 0-5-1 in its last six road games. The trip comes after wins against the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks.
"We got out-battled, outplayed," captain Jarome Iginla said. "This is definitely a big step in the wrong direction. We have to go home and we've got to win games, but this one, this trip definitely put us a ways back."
Asked what it's going to be like returning to Calgary, Iginla said, "I can understand that fans would be upset. We're upset. We're in last place. It's unacceptable. Nobody will give up in this room. It's our responsibility to get ready to play the next one and get ready to win. But we understand that Calgary Flames fans would be upset. They've have a lot of passion and they should be. We're not winning games and we're not winning them consistently."
L.A. took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission on slick passes by defensemen Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin.
Muzzin made a great pinch to keep the puck in at the wall and wrapped a no-look pass around a defender to Stoll for a water-bottle snap shot and 2-0 lead at 9:40. Muzzin initially struggled with increased responsibility when injuries hit the Kings' defense, but the 24-year-old is a plus-9 in his past eight games.
"It was a great look," Stoll said of Muzzin. "He almost had me 10 seconds earlier in that same area. He's been making good plays since he got called up. He's a great player. He's making strides every game. Just found a hole."
Voynov fed an open Brown for a one-timer into an open net on the power play at 5:39. It capped a terrific stretch for Voynov, who is quietly putting together a breakout season. He has 11 points in the past nine games.
"Right now he's playing at a high level, which is a big part of our success," Brown said. "You look at our scoring totals lately – it's pretty high for us. A lot of it is because of our defense, not only Slava but Drew [Doughty] and Muzz and [Martinez] are jumping up, keeping pucks in. You can see it in our O-zone play."
The winless trip somewhat masks periods of strong play for Calgary, which outplayed the Anaheim Ducks for about 35 minutes and largely carried the play over the last 40 minutes in this rematch.
Calgary coach Bob Hartley went on a big-picture tangent when asked about the challenge of restoring confidence going into the team's next game at the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
"What's our challenge? We're NHL players," Hartley said. "We are part of the best hockey League in the world. It is a very easy challenge. Obviously, we need to bring it on the ice. Tomorrow morning is another day. Just look around in your neighborhood. Look around in the society. There's much worse than losing a couple of games of hockey.
"So I think you get right back, and you go to work. It's as simple as this. No one feels sorry for us. That's the way it is and we just have to find a way to be better."
Cory Sarich was inserted for the first time since Feb.18. Los Angeles swept a season series against Calgary for the first time since 1999-00.
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