Preview: Flames vs. Kings
The Los Angeles Kings are losing their grip on the final Western Conference playoff spot due to their offensive woes, and the Calgary Flames are in position to take advantage.
Visiting Calgary has a chance to pull even with Los Angeles in the standings with a regulation victory Saturday night.
The Kings' 1-0 loss to Phoenix on Thursday marked the seventh time in 11 games they've scored one or zero goals, and consequently they have seven losses in that stretch. The league's lowest-scoring team has been shut out seven times - tied for the second-most in the NHL - and has slipped into a tie with the Coyotes for the final two postseason spots.
The Flames are just two points behind.
"We knew it was a big game," forward Anze Kopitar said. "And obviously at this time of the year, you want to create some separation. We failed to do that tonight, and it's disappointing - especially at home."
Los Angeles (27-20-11) dropped to 7-16-6 when allowing the first goal.
"I've said it 100 times. This league is about having the lead and scoring the first goal. It's a big difference in the game," coach Darryl Sutter said. "If you want to say anything about a playoff atmosphere, that's what a playoff atmosphere is about."
The Kings scored first but still fell 2-1 in a shootout Jan. 19 in the most recent meeting with the Flames, who have earned at least one point in seven straight games overall - a 4-0-3 stretch.
Calgary (27-22-9) fell 3-2 at Dallas in overtime Thursday. Coach Brent Sutter - Darryl's brother - wasn't thrilled with his team's performance, although he was happy that Mike Cammalleri tied the game with 5:03 remaining in regulation.
"To score late like that and get the point is huge," Brent Sutter said. "But I don't think we played overly well."
Jarome Iginla, who scored in the last matchup with Los Angeles, added his team-leading 23rd goal Thursday.
"It doesn't feel too good right now to lose in OT, but it's still a very important point and we'll take it," Iginla said.
Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves and is 4-0-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average in his last six starts. If he and Jonathan Quick square off Saturday, it may be another low-scoring contest.
Quick has a 1.47 GAA in his last 19 starts - allowing two goals or fewer 17 times - though he's only 9-5-5 during that stretch. His 1.89 overall GAA is third in the league, while Kiprusoff's 2.28 mark ranks 12th.
Quick has gotten the better of Kiprusoff in recent matchups. Quick is 4-0-1 with a 1.33 GAA in the last five meetings, allowing exactly one goal in four of those contests.
Kiprusoff, though, hasn't allowed more than two goals while going 4-2-1 with a 1.40 GAA in his last seven starts in Los Angeles.
The Flames have scored one regulation goal in each of the last four meetings at Staples Center - losing three.
Kopitar scored and Quick made 29 saves Jan. 14 in a 4-1 road win over the Flames, while Mike Richards chipped in with a goal and an assist. Richards, however, hasn't scored since, totaling two assists in his last 13 games.