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Kings control Flames early, cruise to shutout victory

Kings control Flames early, cruise to shutout victory
Kings forward Jeff Cater celebrates with defenseman Jake Muzzin after scoring a goal on the Flames during the first period of a game at Staples Center on Nov. 5. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

It took until the 12th game of the regular season for the Kings to do something that in past years had become pedestrian and almost commonplace.

They finally won a game in regulation.

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It happened Saturday night against their Pacific Division rivals, the Calgary Flames, with Jeff Carter and Devin Setoguchi scoring goals 45 seconds apart in the final minute of the opening period en route to a comfortable 5-0 win at Staples Center.

Kings goalie Peter Budaj, third on the organizational depth chart at the start of the season, made 24 saves and recorded the 12th shutout of his career. It was his first shutout as King and first since Oct. 28, 2013, when he was with Montreal.

The victory also evened the Kings' record at 6-6 in what promises to be a season in which they will need to scuffle for everything they can get. And if they can get those points against a divisional rival, so much the better.

Two seasons ago, it was Calgary's unexpected surge up the standings that cost the Kings a playoff spot. The Flames are a young team on the rise, which occasionally forces them to deal with the consequences of playing an inexperienced lineup.

The Kings capitalized on one such miscue, and that led to Carter's opening goal. The Flames had just finished killing off consecutive minor penalties when they were about to be flagged again for too many men on the ice (defenseman TJ Brodie was scrambling to get off the ice after a botched line change).

In the ensuing confusion, Carter forced a turnover in the neutral zone. Dwight King then found an open lane and dropped a pass to Carter, who fired a hard shot past goaltender Brian Elliott.

While the Flames were still reeling, Setoguchi scored his first goal in a Kings uniform, finishing off a passing play that began when Dustin Brown went around Brodie and chipped a pass into the high traffic area in front of the Flames' goal. Nic Dowd had one crack at it and kept the puck alive for Setoguchi to jump in and pounce on the rebound, where he shoveled it past Elliott.

Kyle Clifford, with his first of the season, and Setoguchi, with his second of the night, contributed second-period goals to increase the lead on a night when the Flames had no answers for the Kings' persistent, overwhelming forecheck.

Said Setoguchi: "I come here with the purpose to try and resurrect my game and play the best possible way I can. It's not easy. You take a two-year hiatus and you come back and you can't be ... it's tough to play with confidence.

"Getting a couple tonight definitely helps. It helps remind you of some of the plays you had in the past."

Brown had another strong game in what is proving to be something of a resurgent season for him. He has seven points in 12 games this season, compared with three assists in the first 12 games in 2015-16

That they were finally scoring goals was probably the most important development for the Kings during the past 72 hours. Including Thursday's win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, they now have scored eight goals in the past two games, after being shut out in their three previous games.

It also means they can now head out on the road next week in a far more positive and upbeat state of mind. The Kings are just 1-4 away from the Staples Center this year, but this is a swing their players never mind making.

The trip begins in Toronto and also stops in Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg before finishing in Denver with a game against the Colorado Avalanche.

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Drew Doughty and Carter are from London, Ont.; games in Toronto allow them to visit with family and friends.

And Toronto's Air Canada Center is where Doughty helped Canada win the World Cup of hockey.

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