Another Late Flameout

Times Staff Writer

For the first time in weeks, the Kings ran into a team more down on its luck than themselves.

Unlike the Kings, though, the Calgary Flames have not been crippled by an “injury plague,” as King Coach Andy Murray described his club’s run of ill fortune before Saturday night’s game at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Flames are just not very good.

But neither are the Kings in their current configuration, losers of 11 of their last 14 games after Rob Niedermayer scored on a breakaway 2 minutes 42 seconds into overtime to give the Flames a 2-1 victory in front of 16,675.


Desperate for points to stay in the playoff race, the Kings attacked in the extra period with center Jason Allison carrying the puck behind the Flame net before centering a pass intended for defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich in the slot.

The pass, however, never reached its target, with Yushkevich tripping over teammate Mattias Norstrom as the puck slid dangerously toward the other end.

Niedermayer caught up to it in the neutral zone and, with Allison and Ziggy Palffy giving chase, raced toward defenseless goaltender Felix Potvin. Niedermayer then ripped a shot into the back of the net from the high slot, about 20 feet out.

“They got a break,” Yushkevich said. “I was waiting for the puck at the net and as soon as the puck started coming out, I got tripped.”

At the other end, the crowd roaring, Allison slammed his stick against the glass in frustration. The Kings had lost again, though at least this one was worth a point.

Not that it was much consolation.

“It was a tough way to lose,” Murray said.

For the Flames, the victory ended a five-game winless streak.

Last in the Western Conference and on course to miss the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, the Flames were 4-0-1 in their first five games after Darryl Sutter replaced Greg Gilbert as coach last month, but 0-4-1 since.


Sutter, fired earlier in December by the San Jose Sharks, called the rebuilding of the Flames a “long-term project.”

“It’s not unlike the situation when I first went to San Jose,” he said. “Actually, in a lot of ways it’s very similar. They were right at the bottom, really needed leadership. You’ve sort of got to change the mind-set of everybody.”

The Kings, of course, weren’t interested in speeding the process. With five injured regulars sidelined again, they had enough problems.

They started the game only five points ahead of the Flames.

Six minutes into it, they’d given up a goal, scored on a rebound by Craig Conroy at 1:04, and lost a defenseman, Lubomir Visnovsky suffering a sprained left knee when teammate Steve Heinze slipped and fell into him.

They’d also watched anxiously as Potvin fell to his knees in pain after inadvertently using his collarbone to stop a shot by Oleg Saprykin.

Potvin continued to play, stopping 25 shots, among them 14 in the third period. But Visnovsky, who will be reevaluated Monday, did not return.


Palffy tied the score at 6:27, netting a short-handed goal on a breakaway after taking a lead pass from Heinze and easily beating Turek with a wrist shot.

The Kings, though, didn’t find the net again. They’ve scored one goal or less in three of their last four games and eight of 14.