Winning is starting to become a habit for the Calgary Flames, and they don’t appear to be slowing their momentum anytime soon.
The Flames seek their sixth consecutive victory, while extending the Los Angeles Kings’ slide to four games on Saturday in a matchup at Staples Center.
Calgary (6-3-1) struggled early as it opened the new season with a 1-3-1 mark that matched its start from 2005-06.
But it has since gone on to win five straight contests, capping that surge with a 3-2 victory over visiting Boston on Thursday. The latest triumph pulled Calgary into a tie for the Northwest Division lead with Minnesota, which visits Phoenix on Saturday.
In their most recent game, Dion Phaneuf and Michael Cammalleri each contributed a power-play goal and an assist, while captain Jarome Iginla provided two assists for the Flames, who are enjoying their longest winning streak since a six-game run from Dec. 9-18.
Strong special-teams play has keyed the Flames’ run as they have converted six of 23 power-play chances (26.1 percent) in that span to improve to 12-for-53 (22.6 percent) overall. They have also stopped 21 of 22 (95.5) of their opponents’ man-advantage opportunities during that stretch.
Calgary now faces a Los Angeles squad that has allowed five power-play goals in 14 tries (35.7 percent) over its last three games after killing off all 27 penalties through its first six contests. It has gone 7-for-46 (15.2) with the man advantage.
“We all know how big a role that special teams play in today’s game,” said Cammalleri, a former King who has notched two of his four goals on the power play and is second on the Flames with 11 points. “If you can win that battle you’re going to have pretty good success on most nights in this league.”
Calgary continues to get strong goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 29 saves on Thursday, and has a 1.40 goals-against average during this winning run after posting a 4.37 GAA over the first five games.
“When you have a guy like that behind you, our job is to let him see the puck and he’s doing a great job stopping it,” Phaneuf said of Kiprusoff, who joins New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur as the only goalies to have played every minute of their team’s games.
Kiprusoff is 5-1-0 with a 3.17 GAA in his last six games versus the Kings, falling only when he yielded all six goals in a 6-3 road loss on Feb. 15.
But Los Angeles (3-5-1) has scored just seven times during its current three-game skid, and lost 4-0 to Vancouver on Thursday despite outshooting the Canucks 28-18.
The Kings were whistled for six penalties, including two in the first five minutes that allowed the Canucks to take a 1-0 lead.
“It was a tough start,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “We got a double-minor in the second minute of play, then it ends up a 5-on-3. You’re just trying to get the game going and get everybody involved. We just about got it killed off and they end up poking in a loose puck.”
Jason LaBarbera made 14 saves Thursday and has a 3.01 GAA in nine starts thus far, but has gone 2-3-0 with a 3.19 GAA in six all-time games versus the Flames.
Los Angeles will play the third contest of its season-high seven-game stretch at Staples Center, but has lost four of seven home matchups versus Calgary since March 27, 2004. In that span, the Kings have dropped 10 of 14 overall to the Flames.