Gaudreau scores twice, Flames get key 3-2 victory over Kings
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Johnny Gaudreau had two goals and an assist, and the Calgary Flames extended their lead in the Pacific Division with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.
The win gives the Flames a five-point advantage over the Kings atop the division and avenged a 3-2 shootout loss to Los Angeles last Wednesday in Calgary. The Flames have played three fewer games than the Kings.
“It’s a big one for us to start the (four-game road) trip off the right way,” Gaudreau said. “We didn’t play the best game the last time we played LA, so we knew we had a lot better in us. We took a couple too many penalties in the third, but the penalty kill came up big.”
Elias Lindholm also scored and Jacob Markstrom stopped 27 shots as Calgary snapped a three-game losing streak.
Adrian Kempe had two goals and Anze Kopitar had two assists for Los Angeles, which had earned at least a point in five of its last six coming into the game. The Kings have 86 points and are only one point in front of the Edmonton Oilers for second.
Cal Petersen finished with 30 saves for Los Angeles.
“This one was heavier and harder I thought than the one in Calgary, little more physicality both ways,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “They didn’t make those critical mistakes. They made some, but we didn’t capitalize. Fine line between the two teams tonight, just on the short end.”
Gaudreau scored 10 seconds into the game for Calgary’s fastest opening goal since 1987. The All-Star left wing then gave the Flames a 3-2 lead at 14:08 of the second period when he beat Petersen on a backhand after Ryan Carpenter forced a turnover deep in the offensive zone.
Lindholm tied it 65 seconds earlier when he buried it from the slot after Gaudreau fed him from behind the net.
Gaudreau — who has five multigoal games this season — has a goal in three straight games. He also has 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) since March 1, which is tied with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid.
“Johnny was on fire tonight. It was awesome. You know, he’s been really good lately. And hopefully that will get the rest of the line going,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said.
Kempe had his seventh multigoal game of the season. The Swedish center has scored 31 times for the first 30-goal campaign of his career and he is the first Los Angeles player to reach that mark since Kopitar in 2017-18.
Kempe made it 1-all 13:56 into the first period on a one-timer from the right faceoff circle after getting the pass from Kopitar. Kempe then put the Kings ahead with 54 seconds remaining in the period on a snap shot into the far side of the net.
“His physicality, his pace, his shot have showed up night after night. And we haven’t had a 30-goal scorer here since I don’t know when? And he’s there now, so it’s progress for our organization. It really is,” McLellan said of Kempe.
Los Angeles had a chance to send it into overtime after Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk got a double-minor, high-sticking call with 2:03 remaining. The Kings pulled the goalie and had a two-skater advantage, but couldn’t get it into the net.
Kopitar has 61 points (18 goals, 43 assists), marking his 13th 60-point season to pass Marcel Dionne for the most in franchise history.
Gaudreau’s goal was the second-quickest after the opening faceoff this season. The New York Islanders’ Anthony Beauvillier scored nine seconds into their March 24 game against Detroit.
After the Flames won the opening faceoff, Gaudreau was able to grab the puck deep in the offensive zone and banked in a wrist shot from the corner. It was the fifth time in franchise history they have scored within the first 10 seconds.
“I didn’t see a lot. I think the goalie tried to rim it a little bit harder, missed maybe and then I just kind of fired it at the net front,” Gaudreau said. “I didn’t know it went in.
“A great start, you couldn’t ask for a better start.”
Flames: At Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Kings: Host Edmonton on Thursday night.
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