LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings enter the (brief) break on a positive note.
Ahead of the three-day holiday break, which begins on Dec. 24, the Kings claimed victory over the Calgary Flames 5-3. There was little additional emphasis on claiming victory, but Alex Laferriere explained winning is vital to avoid dwelling on the game during their time off.
“You sit on that last game that you play, and it’s good to get the win and not sulk over the break,” Laferriere said. “It was a good, exciting game tonight.”
A solid penalty kill marked the victory, but also poor discipline and a below-par power play. Quinton Byfield, Anze Kopitar, and Drew Doughty added two points each to their totals, as many others notched one.
The Kings got on the board quickly (1:01 into the first period) after Byfield struck a shot through Flames goaltender, Jacob Markstrom’s, pads. Doughty set him up to score.
The Flames responded shortly after, but the Kings scored again late in the first period when Pierre Luc-Dubois tipped in a shot from Jordan Spence, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead. It was Dubois’s sixth goal of the 2023-24 season and his first since Nov. 18.
“P.L.’s (Luc Dubois’s) goal is a is a real good power-play goal in my mind because there was a hunt mentality,” said head coach Todd McLellan. “There was a strip. There was a directness. There was some attack to the net, but the deflection there was a screen nearby. And that’s often how it happens. You don’t just get this set up and move pucks around.”
The Flames responded again with a short-handed goal, but the Kings got their third when Laferriere put away a cross-ice pass from Doughty. He did not hit it cleanly but found the goal nonetheless.
The Kings notched their fourth around the middle of the second period when Trevor Moore found the top shelf from a tight angle.
The Flames got one back, making the score 4-3, but that was all as the Kings edged past them after Byfield scored on the empty net.
The Kings’s second-in-the-NHL penalty kill (by percentage) was one of the main reasons for their victory despite allowing six power play opportunities. They killed five of them, two of which came on a double-minor penalty, which began at the end of the second period.
While the Kings were successful on the penalty kill, they struggled on the power play. Luc Dubois’s goal came in the moments after one of their power plays ended, but their other three power plays were not up to McLellan’s liking.
“Our Power Play has to sharpen up in my mind if we want to have future success,” McLellan said.
Also notable was goaltender Cam Talbot, who started his 21st game in the 2023-24 season. He remained in the game despite taking a hard hit early in the second period as the Flames scored with a shorthanded goal. He allowed three goals on 32 shots. McLellan said the injury to Talbot did not involve his head, so he could stay in the contest.
After the win, the Kings pulled to nine points ahead of the Flames in the Pacific Division as they sit in third place. Next, they take a three-day break before returning to action against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday with a chance to build on the momentum they gained with the victory.