LOS ANGELES — After losing four of their five previous games, the Los Angeles Kings righted the ship and reclaimed the top spot in the Pacific Division.
Jeff Carter scored two goals and recorded an assist, leading the Kings to a 3-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Anze Kopitar had two assists as the Kings (46-26-5) edged back into first place in the Pacific by a point over the Anaheim Ducks with five games remaining. One of those contests is a clash next Thursday with the Ducks at Staples Center.
“We want to finish first,” said Carter, who earned his fifth multi-goal game of the season and has seven points (four goals, three assists) in the past four games. “We want home ice. We have five games left here, and we have to put some wins together.”
Goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped all 21 shots he faced for Los Angeles, which won for only the second time in the past six outings. Quick tied his club single-season record with his 39th victory. It also was his fifth shutout of the season and 42nd of his career.
“This is the best time of year,” said Los Angeles left winger Milan Lucic, who tallied his 34th assist, one shy of his career high. “Heading into the playoffs, last couple games, we’re trying to get our game up to that level that it needs to be at to have success in the playoffs. Key guys have to step up and play their game when things get tough and when things mean the most.”
Goalie Joni Ortio had 26 saves for Calgary, which fell for the second night in a row. The Flames (32-40-6) were pounded 8-3 by the Ducks on Wednesday. They are 0-8-0 this season against the Ducks and Kings.
“They got a good start and I think they took over a little bit in the first (period) and then they scored on that power play in the second,” Calgary center Mikael Backlund said. “I thought we battled hard all night. They’re an aggressive team. They play quick and forecheck (well). At times, we didn’t help each other out. We were putting pucks in bad spots.”
The Kings scored on power play 46 seconds into the second period and 11 seconds after Josh Jooris was sent to the box for interference on Quick. Carter misdirected a shot by Drew Doughty, bouncing the puck off the ice and forcing it to sail past Ortio for a 1-0 Los Angeles lead. With the assist, Doughty passed Steve Duchesne for second in all-time points among Kings defensemen with 316.
Carter scored again at 6:14 of the middle period. After taking a pass near center ice, Lucic rushed down the left side and dropped a pass to Carter, who tapped in a winner past Ortio for a 2-0 advantage. For Carter, it was his 22nd goal of the season.
Andy Andreoff added a third-period goal at 12:38 to cap the scoring.
“I’m disappointed to say the least,” Calgary coach Bob Hartley said. “You can like your team’s performance in the second and third, but at the end of the day, we’re going home empty-handed, and that’s not what we came here for.”
Backlund appeared to score a goal late in the second period, but it was waved off when center Joe Colborne was whistled for incidental contact in the crease. The Flames asked for a review, but the call stood.
“It’s a good win for us,” Carter said. “We need to get some wins and get some points. We still have a long ways to go.”
The Kings have captured all three meetings with the Flames this season. The teams meet again for the final time this season April 5 at Calgary.
NOTES: The Kings are 26-17-2 against the Western Conference and 16-10-0 against the Pacific Division. The Flames fell to 17-25-2 mark against Western teams and 8-15-2 versus Pacific clubs. … Calgary scratched D Dennis Wideman, RW Emile Poirier, D Brett Kulak, RW, Michael Frolik and G Jonas Hiler. D Jamie McBain, RW Kris Versteeg and C Nick Shore were unavailable for Los Angeles. … Calgary and Los Angeles were the only squads with three defensemen in the top 25 for scoring on the road through Wednesday. They included Mark Giordano (22 points), Dougie Hamilton (21) and TJ Brodie (19) of the Flames and Drew Doughty (28), Alec Martinez (20) and Jake Muzzin (19) of the Kings. … Both clubs resume play Saturday. The Flames visit the Edmonton Oilers, while the Kings host the Dallas Stars. … An announced crowd of 18,417 attended.