LOS ANGELES (TICKER) —Their best stretch of the season has the Calgary Flames agonizing about what could have been.
The Flames are 6-2-1 in March after going 8-13-4-2 in January and February. And that has captain Craig Conroy lamenting a stretch that doomed his team to a seventh straight non-playoff finish.
“Looking back, we’re saying what if,” he said. “Last year, it was just the opposite - we didn’t play well in the second half. We’d be in the playoffs if we learn how to do it all year. It’s tough to look back and realize that if we started in November, we’d have a chance.”
A seven-game losing streak and a stretch of 11 defeats in 12 games ruined a respectable 5-3-3-2 start and put Calgary below the .500 mark for good.
“I hope everyone in here understands we’re playing for next year,” Conroy said. “Usually, it’s harder to win at this time of the year. We have to come out with the same fire next year. We don’t have as much skill as some teams, so it just takes hard work.”
Iginla has scored 19 of his 34 goals in the last 20 games. His tally with 8:40 to go in the second snapped a 1-1 tie and was his sixth game-winner.
“I would have loved to have contributed more in the first half,” said Iginla, who is riding a season-high four-game goal streak. “But I tried. Looking back, I would love to be able to change it. It’s agonizing this time of the year to be so far out of the playoffs as we are.”
Iginla battled a groin injury earlier this season and had just 15 goals at the All-Star break.
“Jarome is back in form, especially when he’s knocking them out of the air like he did tonight” Conroy said. “He had eight goals and everyone was writing him off, and now what’s he got, 34?”
Iginla also stood up for his teammates, dropping the gloves with Sean Avery late in the third period and picking up his second fighting penalty of the season.
Turek survived some anxious moments in the third period and won for the sixth time in eight starts.
Conroy collected three assists and Lowry added a goal and an assist for the Flames, who salvaged the finale of a three-game California trip after blowing leads in Anaheim and San Jose.
Defenseman Jaroslav Modry netted the lone goal for Los Angeles, which has lost four of its last five home games.
The Flames scored first for the sixth time in eight games when Lowry put home Conroy’s 7:59 into the opening period.
Nearly nine minutes later, Modry forged a 1-1 tie with his 11 goal and first in nine games. As rookie Alexander Frolov emerged from behind the net, he dished to Modry in the slot and the Czech put the puck past Turek.
The Flames padded their lead in a 2:54 span late in the third period.
Saprykin scored after Blair Betts beat a defender to a loose puck to the right of Huet. It was his eighth goal of the season and fifth since the All-Star break.
Another miscue led to Leopold’s power-play goal. Conroy slid the puck to the blue line, where the former Hobey Baker Award winner skated by a pair of Kings and fired a shot through a screen.
“This wasn’t a very good effort by us,” said Miller, who was on the ice for all four Flames’ goals. “We’re not going to score a lot of goals, so we’ve got to limit our mistakes. And we made too many tonight. I was the worst player on the ice and I’ve got to be one of those guys that is solid every night for us.”