Two days after their historic win against the Anaheim Ducks in Honda Center on Monday, the Flames suited up just a few miles away at the location of their Wednesday game: Los Angeles. Seeking to complete the rare "SoCal Sweep", the Flames debuted legendary Czech winger Jaromir Jagr against the Kings.
It was Los Angeles that got the first big chance of the hockey game just under two minutes in. Rookie defenseman Oscar Fantenberg fired a cannon of a shot from the left point, the rebound of which came to sniper Jeff Carter at the top of the crease. The Kings' star centre attempted to scoop the puck over Mike Smith, but the puck fluttered inconsequentially towards the end-boards instead.
The Flames headed down the other way, with Sam Bennett leading the rush across the Kings' blue line. He fed Kris Versteeg on the left side, who, in turn, spotted Jaromir Jagr streaking towards the net with a pass. Jagr swatted the puck towards Jonathan Quick, who turned aside the knuckler with ease.
A couple minutes later, with the Kings down a man due to an Adrian Kempe penalty, the Flames opened the scoring. It was Public Enemy No. 1 -- Matthew Tkachuk -- who tucked the puck past Quick on a wraparound 3:56 into the hockey game to make it 1-0 Flames. Tkachuk first of the season was assisted by Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano.
It didn't take long for the Flames to double their lead. With the seconds ticking away leading up to the 8:00 mark of the period, Johnny Gaudreau entered the Kings' zone with the puck on a string. He danced around Drew Doughty and slid the puck cross-crease onto the tape of Michael Frolik, who fired it home. Like Tkachuk's goal, Frolik's was his first of the season, which came at 7:47 from Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
The Kings very nearly got one back at the 10:30 mark of the period. On a powerplay of their own due to a Michael Stone hooking penalty, they got to work setting up. In the dying seconds of their man-advantage, it looked like they might finally get a quality scoring chance from in tight. "Fantenberg... down to the right side to Cammalleri... into the slot, for Iafallo... throws it in front to Pearson"; however, from close in, Pearson couldn't elevate the puck over Mike Smith, who sprawled to make a phenomenal save.
As the clock ticked down to zero, the score remained 2-0 for Calgary. Shots on goal in the period favoured the Kings (15-13), as did powerplay opportunities (3-2). Despite this, the Flames scored two more goals, one of which came with the man-advantage.
Shots on Goal
Los Angeles Kings: 15 - Calgary Flames: 13
The Kings very nearly began the second period with a bang. Embarking on a three-on-two breakout in the opening seconds, Dustin Brown fed a wide-open Alex Iafallo on the left side, who attempted to spring a streaking Anze Kopitar on a breakaway just inside the blue line. However, even though Iafallo's pass appeared to be bound for Kopitar's tape, it skittered under the Slovenian forward's stick and the opportunity was lost.
Kopitar continued to be a force throughout the period. Just past the twelve-minute mark of the period, Kopitar gained the Flames' zone, galloping. He danced around a flat-footed T.J. Brodie and darted for the net, only to be met by the pad of Mike Smith. With many Kings sticks banging at the rebound, a scrum ensued.
The Kings appeared to gain momentum as the period progressed, thanks largely in part due to a very successful kill of a four-minute Andy Andreoff roughing penalty, taken at 6:36 of the period. Calgary's offense appeared anemic during their man-advantage, which gave the Kings life.
Finally, the Kings capitalized off of this momentum at the 15:44 mark of the period. To the surprise of no-one, it was Anze Kopitar who got L.A. on the board, as he drilled a perfect wrister from the left hash-marks off the right post and into Mike Smith's net. Kopitar's third goal in three games was assisted by Drew Doughty and Alex Iafallo -- the latter's first NHL point.
Although the Kings appeared to drive play for much of the period, shots were even at 10 apiece.
Shots on Goal
Los Angeles Kings: 10 - Calgary Flames: 10
He may not be their captain anymore. He may be getting up there in years. He may not have scored at a 20-goal pace in a full season since 2012. Even still, Dustin Brown is still capable of being an impact player.
Case in point: just 14 seconds into the period, just as a Mike Smith interference penalty expired, Dustin Brown perfectly redirected a Drew Doughty slapper over the shoulder of Smith and onto the board. The goal was Brown's second of the year, and was assisted (at even strength) by Doughty and Iafallo again.
Oh, there's more. Not even two minutes later, Brown did it again. This time, it was Derek Forbort taking the shot from the point (from the left side instead of the right), but once again, it was Brown who tipped the point-shot past Smith, this time to give the Kings their first lead of the game. Brown's third of the year was assisted by Forbort and Kopitar at 1:58.
OK, that's all great, but there wasn't a chance that Brown could perhaps score a natural hat-trick? Say no more. Just under six minutes later, Kopitar spotted Brown streaking in towards Smith from the right side, and fed him a perfect tape-to-tape pass. Brown continued on with the puck to the left side, Smith's right, and attempted to just slide the puck by him while having the goalie going the other way. Could he? No such luck, as Smith came up big by spreading his legs along the ice to keep it out.
After all that offense coming from one of the Kings' leaders and pests, who better to tie it up for the Flames than their biggest pest, Matthew Tkachuk? Seeking his second of the game, Tkachuk received a drop-pass from Dougie Hamilton at the blue-line, and sent a perfect wrister just over Quick's right pad to knot it up at three goals apiece. Tkachuk's second of the year was assisted by Hamilton and Michael Frolik at 10:59 of the third.
Tensions began to rise as the period neared its conclusion. First, it was Matthew Tkachuk who found himself in the middle of a scrum involving the Kings' goalie Jonathan Quick and a number of other L.A. players -- Tkachuk received the only penalty on the play (at 17:06), and found himself in the Flames' penalty box at the same time as Drew Doughty in the Kings'. A spirited conversation between the two followed.
The rough stuff continued on the ice in the following minutes. Long-serving as the receiving end of big collisions between them, Dustin Brown finally gave Mark Giordano a cross-check, the puck nowhere in sight, knocking down the Flames' captain with 95 seconds remaining in regulation. Seeking to avenge his captain, Troy Brouwer lunged after Brown, and the two engaged in some pleasantries before being escorted to their respective sin-bins.
Shots in the third heavily favoured the Kings, by a count of 20-13. Despite this, the goal total was equal: 1-1.
Shots on Goal
Los Angeles Kings: 20 - Calgary Flames: 13
Overtime required but one shot total to be decided -- it was over in little more than a minute. The Flames' best 3-on-3 team in 2016-17, the new-look Flames sought to continue that streak to begin the new season.
With the Kings controlling the play for much of the opening minute of the overtime period, the Flames finally managed to get some breaks rather quickly. With a fresh Johnny Gaudreau out to accompany Sean Monahan and T.J. Brodie, three of the Flames' best skaters and puck-handlers formed a unit with one goal: score.
That, they did.
It was Sean Monahan who finished off a pretty passing play to win the game at the 1:02 mark of overtime. Monahan's 109th career goal -- his second of the season, came off of a perfect centering pass from Brodie, and was also assisted by Gaudreau.
Shots on Goal
Los Angeles Kings: 0 - Calgary Flames: 1
- Dustin Brown
- Anze Kopitar
- Matthew Tkachuk
- Los Angeles Kings - 45
- Calgary Flames - 37
- Monahan's game-winning goal was the 21st of his NHL career and the 8th overtime winner of his career.
- 19.3% of Monahan's goals have been game-winners (21/109)
- How about that Mike Smith? He made 42 saves on 45 shots tonight for a sparkling .933 save percentage.
- Johnny Gaudreau continues to light it up. He had two assists tonight to raise his point total on the year to seven in four games, good for third in the NHL.
- Jaromir Jagr's Flames debut saw him hit the ice for 13:38, including 2:23 on the powerplay. He recorded no points and was a -1, although the minus wasn't really his fault -- he was just stepping out of the penalty box when the goal in question (Brown's first) went in.
The Flames (3-1-0, 2nd Pacific) come back home on Friday the 13th to face Dion Phaneuf and the Ottawa Senators (1-0-2, 4th Atlantic). It's possible that Eddie Lack might suit up for his first game as a Flame in this one, while Craig Anderson will most likely get the nod for the Sens. Catch it on Sportsnet Flames or Sportsnet 960 The Fan.
13 Gaudreau - 23 Monahan - 79 Ferland
19 Tkachuk - 11 Backlund - 67 Frolik
10 Versteeg - 93 Bennett - 68 Jagr
15 Glass - 18 Stajan - 36 Brouwer
5 Giordano - 27 D. Hamilton
7 Brodie - 24 Hamonic
44 Bartkowski - 26 Stone
Michael Gould is a guest contributor to Fireside Chat who has been covering the Flames on his own blog - Follow The Flames since 2015.