CALGARY, Canada — The Saddledome, along with its ever-changing corporate names, was almost like a second home for goalie Martin Jones in his formative hockey years.
His junior team, the Calgary Hitmen, shared the building with the NHL's Calgary Flames, and back in those days, Darryl Sutter happened to be the Flames' general manager.
On Monday, Jones and Sutter returned to beat the Flames as the Kings won their eighth straight game, surviving a late scare when Calgary scored twice in the last 4 minutes 31 seconds. The rookie goaltender faced 26 shots as the Kings won, 3-2, at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
It was certainly an eventful day for the Kings. Earlier, one of their young players, forward Jordan Nolan, was hit with a one-game suspension by the league for punching an unsuspecting opponent, Oilers forward Jesse Joensuu, in Sunday's game at Edmonton.
Jones won in his return as an NHL player to Calgary and Sutter, the Kings' coach, kept his own streak intact as he has not lost in eight games at Calgary since he left the Flames organization.
The Kings scored twice in the first period: Justin Williams (17th goal of the season) converted a nice return pass from Anze Kopitar, and Trevor Lewis (his fourth) deflected defenseman Slava Voynov's shot past Flames goalie Joni Ortio, who had lost his stick. Kopitar's 20th goal made it 3-0 at 7:01 of the third.
Calgary ruined Jones' shutout bid with a late power-play goal by former Kings forward Mike Cammalleri, and enforcer Brian McGrattan cut the lead to 3-2 at 17:38.
“Martin played a tremendous game,” Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr said. “He was by far and away the best player. He's a huge reason why we won this game tonight.”
Said Jones: “It was nice. I was excited to play here for sure. I had four great years here. It was a good road win. It wasn't pretty. We clamped down when we needed to . . . especially in that last minute there, not giving up any chances.”
Years ago, Sutter couldn't help but notice the young goalie with the bright future, putting up impressive numbers with a stellar junior franchise.
The coach isn't an overly sentimental type — neither is Jones, for that matter — but Sutter did some reflecting about Jones.
“That's the first thing I thought of this morning,” Sutter said, smiling. “He was about four doors down, always coming out the other side there [in the building].”
And now for the present . . .
The Kings are within a game of tying a franchise record for consecutive victories. They can do so with a win against Toronto on Thursday at Staples Center. That mark was established during the 2009-10 season. The Kings have won eight straight three times, in 1972-73, 1991-92 and this current run.
“I don't think it was the prettiest game tonight,” Kopitar said. “We certainly didn't want to make it as interesting as we did in the end. But Jonsey was back there bailing us out pretty often.”
Nolan will be eligible to return Thursday, although rookie forward Tanner Pearson, who replaced him in the lineup, made a strong impression against the Flames.
It was the first suspension for Nolan, who has 52 penalty minutes in 54 games. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, he will forfeit $3,589.74 in salary.
Sutter, naturally, downplayed the matter even before the suspension came down. “It's not a chapter in the history of the road trip,” he said. “Not much to it."
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