Flames knock off Kings to clinch playoff spot

Opposite to what most would have predicted six months ago, the Calgary Flames are going to the playoffs while the Los Angeles Kings are heading home. Jiri Hudler scored twice and added an assist Thursday night as the Flames clinched their first playoff spot in six years with a 3-1 victory over the Kings.

CALGARY — Opposite to what most would have predicted six months ago, the Calgary Flames are going to the playoffs while the Los Angeles Kings are heading home.

Jiri Hudler scored twice and added an assist Thursday night as the Flames clinched their first playoff spot in six years with a 3-1 victory over the Kings.

The Kings saw their post-season aspirations come to an end with the loss. It is the first time since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006-07 that the defending Stanley Cup champions have failed to make the playoffs the following season.

“What an amazing feeling. After we scored that empty-netter, the building was electric,” said Hudler, whose 31st goal with 50 seconds left to clinch it came with the raucous sell-out crowd of 19,289 already standing and giving Calgary a thunderous ovation.

“I’m very proud of them. We believed in training camp. We really believed,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.

Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary (45-29-7), which wraps up the regular season in Winnipeg on Saturday. The Jets clinched the second wild-card spot with the Kings loss.

Jordan Nolan scored for Los Angeles (39-27-15), which finishes the year winless in its final five games on the road (0-4-1).

“It’s hard to put stuff into words right now. We’re certainly not satisfied and are very disappointed,” said Kings centre Anze Kopitar. “We just didn’t play good enough hockey this year. Too much inconsistency, four and five-game losing streaks and you can’t do that. It’s too tough coming down the stretch, this time of year, to be playing catch-up.”

After being outshot 15-8 in the opening 20 minutes, the Kings held a 12-4 edge in shots in the second period but couldn’t cut into the deficit.

“It’s a big disappointment for our group that expects to be in the playoffs. That’s not an expectation from outside, it’s an expectation from inside,” said captain Dustin Brown.

The Flames will play the Canucks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. What is still to be determined, however, is whether that series will begin in Calgary or Vancouver.

Calgary is two points back of the Canucks, who wrap up the year Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers. The Flames own the tie-breaker.

“We have a skilled team here and I knew coming in we had a special group. It just shows tonight,” said Gaudreau.

Calgary jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 12:15 on Gaudreau’s goal then surged in front 2-0 just over two minutes later when Hudler picked the top corner with a hard 40-foot slapshot.

“That was the perfect combination,” said Hartley. “Score early, build a lead. We knew they would make a push. We paid a price for this win.”

Nolan got the Kings on the scoreboard five minutes into the third period but that was the only puck to get past Jonas Hiller, who had 33 saves.

“To be able to beat the defending Stanley Cup champions to make the playoffs makes it even more special,” said Hiller, who improves to 26-19-4 “It starts sinking in that we’re going to be playing a few more games. I’m really happy. I’m happy for myself. I’m happy for the team. I’m happy for all of Calgary.”

Jonathan Quick finished with 22 stops to fall to 35-22-13.

The atmosphere in the Scotiabank Saddledome was electric with a great majority of fans wearing red jerseys.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read