By Kevin Baxter
10:35 PM PST, February 27, 2014
CALGARY, Canada -- Given the way the Kings stumbled into the NHL's Olympic break — with the league's worst record over the final 10 games — it was clear they had to set a different tone coming of out of it.
And it took them less than 24 hours to do that, with goals by Dustin Brown and Dwight King giving them a 2-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday, completing a sweep of a quick two-night, two-nation trip they hope will provide a springboard to their fifth straight playoff appearance.
“It's that point of the year where everyone's tight in the standings and we've got to get wins,” said goalie Jonathan Quick, who made 25 saves en route to his 29th career shutout and fourth this season.
“[But] I don't know about making a statement. I don't know what that means. We're trying to win hockey games like everyone else in the league.”
A night after winning a 10-goal shootout in Denver, the Kings needed just one goal to beat Calgary and they didn't wait long to get it, with Brown scoring on the team's second shot of the night, jumping a lazy pass between defenseman Chris Butler and Kris Russell, then skating in alone on rookie goalie Joni Ortio and backhanding the puck in just three minutes after the opening faceoff.
The goal, Brown's 11th of the season, tied him with Anze Kopitar for ninth on the Kings' all-time list with 192. Kopitar had briefly held that spot alone after scoring twice Wednesday.
Quick then spent the next 57 minutes making that score stand up.
He almost got an insurance goal in the opening seconds of the third period on a backhanded wrist shot from Slava Voynov from just outside the crease. But Ortio, who played well in his NHL debut, snapped the puck out of the air with his glove.
Less than three minutes later the Kings were back on the doorstep, with Ortio denying King at first. But King kept hacking at the puck and was eventually rewarded with his 12th goal.
“That's the kind of the game we want to play there,” Quick said. “That's a solid road third period. You don't give up much and you make them work. Obviously, scoring a goal there at the beginning of the period was huge to give us a little bit more of a gap.”
But as important as the win was, how the Kings got it may have been just as encouraging.
Outhustled for much of the game by a Calgary team playing for the first time in 19 days, the Kings stiffened when they have to.
And a night after giving up three power-play goals to Colorado, they killed off six penalties against the Flames, ending a streak that had seen the Kings give up at least one power-play score in six consecutive games.
So by the time the team boarded its charter flight for the three-hour trip back to Los Angeles, it had gained three points in two days on Phoenix in the battle for third place in the Pacific Division and the automatic playoff berth that comes with it.
But former Flame Robyn Regehr, who was honored with a first-period tribute on the scoreboard, said it's
far too early to talk about that.
“We're a ways away,” he said.
“Even through we've won the first two games, it's been fairly sloppy. The important thing is we realize that, we're aware. And we still found a way to win.”
And a way to erase the memories of how they were playing just a month ago.
“We realize we weren't playing good hockey going into the break,” Regehr said. “And it was really nice to get away from the rink and the game for an extended period of time and come back refreshed.”
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