FINAL – Kings 4, Flames 3 (OT) – Kempe, Lizotte, McLellan

The LA Kings extended their winning streak to four consecutive games with a 4-3 overtime victory over Calgary on Thursday evening at Crypto.com Arena.

The Kings got goals during regulation from forwards Gabe Vilardi, Phillip Danault and Blake Lizotte, as well as the game-winning goal from Adrian Kempe, with both Vilardi and Lizotte posting multi-point nights. Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 27 saves on 30 shots to earn the victory, improving to 5-1-0 from six starts with the Kings this season.

Calgary opened the scoring less than four minutes into the game through forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who buried his sixth goal of the season. After the Kings lost possession of the puck in their own end, forward Milan Lucic sprang Huberdeau the other way on a breakaway, which he buried through the five hole, to put the visitors on the board.

The Kings equalized late in the first period to tie the game at one through 20 minutes. After forward Blake Lizotte fed defenseman Sean Walker at the right-hand point, the latter sent a shot towards the net that was redirected by Vilardi, past Calgary netminder Dan Vladar, for his team-leading 14th goal of the season.

The Kings took a two-goal advantage in the early stages of the third period, as they opened up a 3-1 lead with two goals in a span of just 10 seconds.

First, off of a terrific shift from the second line, Danault pulled the hosts ahead for the first time with a goal 1:29 into the third period. After he took a feed from forward Alex Iafallo in the low slot, he dragged the puck to his backhand and slid it around Vladar for his ninth goal of the season. Just 10 seconds later, the Kings scored again, as Lizotte whacked the puck home from the slot, as he and Vilardi both picked up their second points of the game on the play.

The Flames pulled one goal back on the power play to move to within 3-2. Former Kings forward Tyler Toffoli walked in from the left-hand circle and snapped a wrist shot past Copley for his second career goal against the Kings. Calgary then came back to tie the game at three with just under six and a half minutes to play in regulation. Defenseman Noah Hanifin rounded the net, spun to his backhand and fed forward Dylan Dube at the back post for the goal, tying the game at three.

After neither team broke the deadlock in regulation, the game progressed to overtime where the Kings picked up the second point. Kempe and Arvidsson combined on a nice passing play in transition, with a give-and-go making its way back to Kempe for the tap-in goal at the back post, the game-winner.

Hear from Kempe, Lizotte and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s game.

Blake Lizotte

Adrian Kempe
On the game-winning goal tonight and how he saw the play progress
Yeah, I caught a loose puck in our d-zone and knew I had Arvy with me for a 2-on-1. I tried to make the pass over the d-man early and obviously I was expecting him to shoot but I was staying at the back post in case the puck ended up there and he made a great play back to me for an easy tap-in . Fun goal.

On the importance of winning a division game and beating Calgary specifically
Yeah, that was huge. It’s a divisional game, first of all, and they’re a couple of points behind us, it was an important game. They came back late in the third period, so I think we showed some good character to get the two points from them in OT. Obviously we wanted to win the game after 60 minutes, and I think that’s something we should have done, but they’re a good team, they have some good lines up front. I think it showed some good character from us to come away with the two points.

On the positives from tonight taken from style of play
Yeah, I think so. It was two good teams out there, both teams had a good game I felt like, we played well, they played well. Bad things are going to happen when you play a team like that, they have a lot of offense up front and they’re going to create their chances, but overall I think we were pretty happy with our game. We could have cleaned it up a little bit at the end, in the third period, but other than that, there are a lot of things we can take with us.

Todd McLellan
On if he felt tonight was a character win for the Kings
I think that’s fair. I thought there was a well-played game by both teams, it was tight checking, not a lot of space, the odd breakdown and then the goaltenders played well, special teams were dangerous on the powerplay, but yet the penalty kill was pretty good . It felt like a playoff game, that’s sort of what it felt like.

On Blake Lizotte elevating his game tonight, playing with Arvidsson and Vilardi
He elevated his game, he was all over the rink. I thought physically he received but he also gave back and that’s important. Good in the circle, his tenacity is hard to handle. The size advantage doesn’t always go to the bigger guy when you’ve got it [Lizotte] buzzing around all the time, in your equipment and stripping pucks. He was a really effective player tonight.

On Gabe Vilardi’s play tonight, when elevated back to the third line
It’s interesting, I think Gabe is still a top-three, top-six player in my mind. He needed a little rejuvenation with the gas tank and a little bit of confidence. He scored tonight, so obviously that’s a real big thing for him, but he had a heck of a night I though. Going out there and being ready, never knowing when your number is going to get called a little bit more than it has been, it’s important. He passed that test.

On elements from tonight he believed led to a playoff-like atmosphere
I thought checking was tight, there wasn’t much space in it, from that perspective it felt playoff-like. You had about three feet of ice to work in and then somebody else got three feet. The stick-on-stick bottles, the body positioning, faceoffs to net play to corner work, it felt a little [tighter], a little heavier, a little quicker, faster. I’m not sure if the players about that felt that but we did be behind the bench

On areas he feels the team can still improve in, despite a night they were solid overall
Structure was pretty good, but if I could wave a wand, I think we have to learn to play a little bit better with the lead. I thought that shift length got a little long, there were some risk plays that we didn’t need to deploy. I thought we played 1-on-1 standing still and that’s often a dangerous thing, especially against that team but a win is a win, we’ll take it. Get some rest and play tomorrow.

Note – Arthur Kaliyev missed tonight’s game with an injury, suffered via a blocked shot against Anaheim on Tuesday. Per Todd McLellan, Kaliyev will not play tomorrow versus Arizona and will be evaluated after the holiday break.

Notes –
– Gabriel Vilardi (1-1-2) recorded his seventh multi-point effort of the season, including his team-leading 14th goal of the campaign.
– Blake Lizotte (1-1-2) registered his first multi-point game of the season to give him three points over his last two outings.
– Adrian Kempe scored his fifth career regular-season overtime goal. Since his debut season in 2016-17, only forward Jeff Carter (6) has scored more.
– Phillip Danault scored his ninth goal of the season to extend his point streak to three games.
– Pheonix Copley improved to 6-1 on the season as he made 27 saves on 30 shots against. Copley’s start tonight was his fifth consecutive start.
– The Kings two third period goals scored 10 seconds apart (Danault – 1:29, Lizotte – 1:39). It marked the club’s fastest two goals scored this season.
– With tonight’s win, the Kings have earned points in six of their last seven games at Crypto.com Arena (4-1-2).

The Kings are not scheduled to hold a morning skate tomorrow, considering the back-to-back, and will return to action tomorrow evening against the Arizona Coyotes at 6:30 PM Pacific time from Mullett Arena in Arizona.

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