The reaction said it all.
Robbed twice by the post and once by a cross-bar, Johnny Gaudreau’s third-period power-play marker sealed a 4-1 Calgary Flames win over the visiting L.A. Kings.
After the goal-light turned on and the patrons of the Scotiabank Saddledome celebrated the go-ahead marker, the 25-year-old rolled his eyes skywards — as if to say, ‘finally.’
His most frustrating scoring chance came in the second period saw him behind Cal Petersen’s net, trying to fool him with his dazzling stick-handling. Gaudreau came around his left side, a perfect tap-in. But, somehow, the puck slid across the goal crease only to hit the opposite post and out. No one could blame Gaudreau when he got to the bench and let out some frustration.
But that all dissipated at 7:44 of the third period when his backhander slid under defenceman Drew Doughty’s right leg, giving him 21 points in 18 games against the Kings over his five-year National Hockey League career.
Don’t be fooled by the score — this was not a 4-1 hockey game.
The Kings tied it 1-1 at the 13:41 mark of the second period when Adrian Kempe picked the short-side on Mike Smith, which was only L.A.’s seventh shot on net — and third of the period.
It was a quiet night for Smith, who had been sitting idle since a 28-save effort in Sunday’s 6-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Flames had out-shot the Kings 19-9 at the end of the second period, which saw Smith going long stretches without seeing action.
One of his best stops, however, came on Dustin Brown at the 12:51 mark of the third period, a sprawling save that resulted in a scoring chance at the opposite end for Austin Czarnik and drew a penalty from Dion Phaneuf.
During the ensuing TV timeout, Smith skated to the bench and was congratulated by his team. And, in the end, the 36-year-old posted his second straight victory by making 13 saves while Petersen made 33 stops on the Flames.
The ice was still newly flooded when Mikael Backlund got the Flames on the board, a shot that slipped past Kings back-up Petersen.
With a 1-0 lead just 36 seconds into the first period, they were on cruise control until the ice was re-flooded for the second period.
Ryan Lomberg, drawing into his first NHL game of 2018-19 after being recalled from the American Hockey League last week, provided a physical edge laying out five hits in 4:57 of ice time during the first two periods.
The score was misleading as the Flames scored two empty-net markers in the third period, Sean Monahan with 7.3-seconds remaining while Backlund scored his second of the game with 31.4 seconds left.
The Flames now have points in their last three games and are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and 15-9-2 overall. They head out on the road to face the Chicago Blackhawks (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet The Fan 960) on Sunday and Columbus Blue Jackets (5 p.m. MT, Sportsnet West, Sportsnet The Fan 960) on Tuesday.
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