Goalie Don Edwards of the Calgary Flames was booed off the ice the last time he played at the Olympic Saddledome. That was after he had allowed 5 goals on 15 shots in little more than one period against the New York Rangers March 7.
But Edwards got a standing ovation from a crowd of 16,683 fans Friday night after he shut out the Kings, 3-0. It was the fifth straight loss for the Kings, including three straight against the Flames.
"I'm not going to criticize the fans," Edwards said. "They pay our salaries and they have a right to express their feeling. I admit I had a bad period against the Rangers."
Edwards was benched for 12 games after his poor performance. He got a chance to start Wednesday night against the Kings after starting goalie Reggie Lemelin injured his ankle in practice Tuesday. Edwards beat the Kings, 4-2, for his first win in 17 weeks, and Friday night, he came back to earn his first shutout since March, 14, 1983.
"I'm just happy to win," Edwards said. "We're in a tough fight with Winnipeg, and I just tried to go out and do the best job I could."
Calgary (40-27-9) is three points behind the second-place Jets (42-27-8) in the Smythe Division. Calgary plays the Jets Sunday afternoon at Winnipeg.
Edwards made 31 saves against the Kings, but he wasn't really challenged until the third period, when the Kings got off 16 shots. The Kings had just 15 shots in the first two periods, including only five in the second period.
"He played very well," Calgary Coach Bob Johnson said of Edwards. "He earned that shutout."
It was the second time this season that the Kings have been shut out, both times by Calgary. Lemelin was in the nets when the Flames beat the Kings, 7-0, March 3.
The Kings' best scoring chance came with 11 minutes left in the third period when center Bernie Nicholls fed right wing Jim Fox in front of the net. But Edwards made a diving save on Fox's shot from point-blank range.
"I had a lot of time, but I didn't bury it." Fox said.
King Coach Pat Quinn benched right wings Dave Taylor and Phil Sykes and defenseman Brian Engblom in an attempt to help the Kings break out of the slump. The three players didn't make the one-day trip to Calgary. Nor did center Doug Smith, who reinjured his right knee in Wednesday's game.
Rookie center Brian Wilks, called up from junior hockey Thursday, replaced Smith on a line with Dave (Tiger) Williams and Steve Shutt.
"We had lost four in a row, and I was looking to spark us," Quinn said. "Smith is injured, but the other three (Taylor, Sykes and Engblom) were just roster changes."
When approached by reporters after Friday night's game, Quinn ripped up a piece of paper before he started talking.
Asked what was on the paper, Quinn replied: "I guess you could call it our game plan.
"We haven't had that jump like we had at midseason. In the last five games, we've played well enough to win and we haven't won. We're gambling now. We weren't bad tonight. We just weren't good enough."
With only four games left in the regular season, the Kings are in their worst slump since they opened the season with a nine-game winless streak.
The Kings already have clinched a playoff berth and will open against the defending Stanley CUp champion Edmonton Oilers April 10.
"What can you say? It's up to each individual to come out and do the job," King center Marcel Dionne said. "Otherwise, we'll be golfing soon."
Said left wing J.P. Kelly: "I don't know what's wrong. Maybe we've been too complacent. We don't seem to be hungry enough to win."
How bad was it for the Kings? Well, they even lost a stick challenge. With 3:38 left in the second period, the Kings asked referee Andy Van Hellemond to measure the stick of Flame defenseman Al MacInnis. The Kings argued that MacInnis was using an illegal stick, one with a curve that was too big. But MacInnis' stick was fine, and the Kings were penalized for delay of game.
The Flames took a 1-0 lead with 11:03 left in the first period when left wing Kent Nilsson scored his 35th goal of the season. Nilsson beat King goalie Darren Eliot on a 45-foot slap shot.
Calgary added two more goals in the second period to put the game away.
Right wing Hakan Loob scored off a two-on-one break with 17:36 left in the second period, and MacInnis got a power-play goal with 6:13 left on a shot that went in off Eliot's leg.
King Notes The Kings return home tonight to face the Minnesota North Stars at the Forum. . . . Left wing Dave (Tiger) Williams was cut on the left side of the face when he was hit by a shot Friday night.