April 17th, 2024

Nazem Kadri paces Calgary Flames to 4-2 win over Los Angeles Kings

By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press on March 31, 2024.

Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar (11) and defenceman Jordan Spence (21) turn Calgary Flames forward Matthew Coronato (27) upside down during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Saturday, March 30, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – Nazem Kadri provided the spark and the Calgary Flames endured a few blocked-shot bruises en route to a 4-2 doubling of the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

Kadri scored Calgary’s first goal, assisted on the second and decked Kings defenceman Mikey Anderson into the boards in front of Calgary’s bench to spur the hosts to a 2-1 lead after the first period.

“When Naz is at his best, he drags people into the fight with him,” Flames head coach Ryan Huska said.

Martin Pospisil, Blake Coleman and MacKenzie Weegar also scored for the Flames (34-34-5), who halted a five-game losing skid.

Andrei Kuzmenko contributed a pair of assists. Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who made 16 saves for the win, got help from teammates who blocked a combined 18 shots.

Weegar led the charge in that department with seven blocks. Rasmus Andersson was in pain after taking a Kevin Fiala blast off the inside of his skate boot late in the second period. Andersson finished the game.

“You’ve got to get dirty and sore sometimes to gut out some victories like this,” Weegar said.

But with nine games remaining in the regular season, the Flames were all but out of playoff contention. Calgary posted a 5-9-0 record in March after trades overhauled the defence.

Calgary was 14 points back of the Kings (38-24-11) who held the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference with nine games remaining.

“That’s the story of an 82-game season. Really can’t get too high, can’t get too low,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “Now we’ve got nine left. We’ve obviously got to bring it and make sure that we get into the playoffs and then we’ll go from there.”

Los Angeles was three points back of both the Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights, and 15-9-1 since Jim Hiller replaced Todd McLellan as head coach Feb. 2.

Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist and Kopitar also scored for Los Angeles. Fiala had a pair of assists. Kings starter David Rittich, who is a former Flame, stopped 31 shots in the loss.

Calgary scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time this season to convert over half their five chances in front of an announced 17,517 at the Saddledome. Los Angeles went 2-for-4 with a man advantage.

The Flames outshot the visitors 20-4 over the first 30 minutes of the game and led 4-2 on Weegar’s third-period goal.

Viktor Arvidsson’s tripping penalty on Weegar with 54 seconds remaining in the game put Rittich back in L.A.’s net after the goalie was pulled for an extra attacker.

Coleman’s power-play marker to make it 3-1 at 11:58 of the second period was the Texan’s 29th of the season. Kopitar countered on the power play at 18:25 for his 25th, which pulled the Kings within a goal again.

Pospisil made it 2-1 for the hosts at 11:56 of the first. The teams traded power-play goals early. Kempe one-timed a Drew Doughty pass off Markstrom’s shoulder and into the net at 5:42.

Calgary scored first at 4:45 when Kadri in the slot swept the puck by Rittich on a Kuzmenko feed.

The Flames were minus forward Andrew Mangiapane for a second straight game with an undisclosed injury. The Kings were without Philip Danault (upper-body).

WEEGAR WINDING UP

Weegar pushed his career high for goals in a season to 18 on Saturday. The defenceman’s previous high was eight for the Florida Panthers in 2021-22 before his trade to Calgary.

His 16 goals even-strength leads all NHL defencemen. The 30-year-old from Ottawa says his teammates are talking up a 20-goal season for him.

“It’s in the back of my mind a little bit for sure,” Weegar said. “It would be pretty cool, but I think not for me. A lot of the teammates bring it up quite a bit, so it’s something I can’t really get away from.”

UP NEXT

The Flames: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.

Kings Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2024.

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